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100 years ago: Spokane gave women the vote before New York, Massachusetts or Pennsylvania

From our archives,

100 years ago

It was Election Day, and a stark contrast existed between the women’s suffrage situation in Spokane and in the bulk of the country.

The big eastern states of New York, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania soundly defeated women’s suffrage propositions. The margins in each state were sizable. In Spokane, it was a different story. Women already had the right to vote, and they used it.

“In precinct after precinct, a larger percentage of women voted than men,” the paper reported.

“I am safe in saying that fully 60 percent of the vote cast here has been by women,” an election official said.

Washington women had won the right to vote five years earlier, in 1910. Only 10 other states, all in the West, had women’s suffrage. Voters in most of the rest of the country still opposed the idea.

On election night, one suffrage leader said she was not surprised by the anti-suffrage result in Massachusetts, since it is “an exceedingly conservative state.” She also said that, even though the New York proposition failed by more than 175,000 votes, “we have won the greatest victory in the history of our movement,” simply because more than 500,000 New York voters (all men, of course) cast votes in favor of suffrage. “This is only one battle, and we are in a war,” she said.

It would take another five years before women’s suffrage would become the law of the land.