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Women in Washington state win the vote on November 8, 1910.

HistoryLink.org Essay 5213 : Printer-Friendly Format

On November 8, 1910, Washington state's male electorate ratifies Amendment 6 to the state constitution granting women the right to vote. Breaking a 14-year gridlock in the national woman suffrage crusade, the state becomes the fifth in the nation to enfranchise women. Two outstanding women led the Washington crusade: Emma Smith DeVoe of Tacoma and May Arkwright Hutton of Spokane. DeVoe was a paid organizer for the National American Woman Suffrage Association and president of the Washington Equal Suffrage Association. Hutton, a wealthy mine owner and philanthropist, spearheaded the efforts of Eastern Washington and was one of the most influential suffrage leaders on the state level.

No Denial of the Elective Franchise

The relevant sentence in Amendment 6 reads: "There shall be no denial of the elective franchise at any election on account of sex." The Amendment still retained the following language: "That Indians not taxed shall never be allowed the elective franchise" (Washington State Constitution, 1910).

The vote count for suffrage in Washington was as follows:

Yes - 52,299
No - 29,676

Washington's enactment of woman suffrage opened the floodgates for other Western states, which quickly voted to enfranchise women. Women in the more entrenched Eastern and Southern states had to wait until 1920, when they gained equal suffrage through ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The 19th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America reads:

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

It was proposed by a resolution of Congress on June 4, 1919. The U. S. Secretary of State declared it ratified on August 26, 1920.

Mildred Tanner Andrews, Washington Women as Path Breakers (Dubuque: Kendall/Hunt, 1989); T. A. Larson, "The Woman Suffrage Movement in Washington," Pacific Northwest Quarterly No. 2 (April 1976); Washington State Constitution, Amendment 6, 1909, p. 26, Sec. 1, Approved November, 1910; Washington Secretary of State, Abstract of Votes polled in the State of Washington at the General Election, November 8, 1910 (Olympia: Secretary of State, 1910); "Women Of State Get The Ballot By Gift Of Men," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p. 11; "Cedar River Dam Only Bond Issue Sure Of Success," Ibid., November 10, 1910, p. 1, 2; "National Landslide: America Revolts Against Rule of Predatory Rich," The Seattle Daily Times, November 9, 1910, 1; "Men Present Women Right Of Suffrage," Ibid., 1; "Republicans Win State; Majorities Show Reduction," Ibid., 1.
This essay was expanded slightly on November 9, 2010.

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Women posting signs to promote woman suffrage, Seattle, 1910
Courtesy UW Special Collections (Neg. A. Curtis 19943)

May Christine Hull (b. 1873), Colfax, 1910
Courtesy Nancy Carroll

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