The Washington Equal Suffrage Association places posters in Seattle in 1910 to promote women’s suffrage. (Washington State Archives)

The Washington Equal Suffrage Association places posters in Seattle in 1910 to promote women’s suffrage. (Washington State Archives)

Editorial: Honor 100 years of suffrage with your ballot

Women’s right to vote was recognized 100 years ago; we need to use the ballots women fought for.

It’s one of those quirks of history that even though Washington state had recognized women’s right to vote 10 years previously, the state’s Legislature was the 35th state — next to the last necessary for adoption — to ratify the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which opened voting booths to most women across the country.

Earlier this month, the nation marked 100 years since a vote in Tennessee’s legislature on Aug. 18, 1920, provided the 36th and final state approval needed for the amendment’s ratification.

As hard fought as the struggle for women’s suffrage was in the decades before the vote in Nashville, the century since has seen a long, difficult effort to extend recognition of those rights to Black Americans, Native Americans and young Americans between the ages of 18 and 21. The work continues to fully employ that right to vote to achieve equity and equality for women and minorities in their lives and in their representation at all levels of government.

And it was a right available to women in Washington state 10 years before the 19th Amendment was ratified, when voters — all men, of course — recognized women’s right to vote in elections within the state on Nov. 8, 1910.

Women in Washington Territory had the vote much earlier — in 1877, when first allowed to vote in school board elections. That right was expanded briefly in 1883, then denied by the territorial Supreme Court, a year before statehood in 1889. The vote wouldn’t be restored — except for a 1892 vote on the state flower — until the 1910 election.

Fittingly, the amendment’s centennial has arrived during an election year of great consequence and one of increased voter interest and participation.

While representation in elected bodies such as the state legislatures and Congress is far from a 50-50 level of parity, Washington is — as it was 110 years ago — a leader among the 50 states.

Nationwide, women make up nearly 29 percent of state legislatures and about a quarter of the membership of the U.S. House and Senate. For Washington state, 41.5 percent of state lawmakers are women; and both U.S. senators and five of 10 House representatives are women; a number that is likely to increase to six with the election of either Beth Doglio or Marilyn Strickland to Rep. Denny Heck’s vacated 10th District seat.

Nationwide, there’s been increased interest among women — Democrat and Republican — in running for Congress. More than 583 women filed for House or Senate posts, including a record 227 Republican women. With most primaries complete, 211 Democratic women and 98 Republican women remain in the running for November’s congressional elections.

Even 100 years on, there’s still an effort required to raise awareness about the history of women’s suffrage and their achievements. Efforts in recent years in the Legislature and by officials, including current Secretary of State Kim Wyman, to streamline voter registration and election participation have helped. A record turnout is expected for the general election.

Elections — as evidenced by the efforts expended to win recognition of that right for women, Black Americans and others — are of immense consequence to our nation and our lives, most especially the election that is now just a couple of months away.

Register to vote, learn about the candidates and issues, watch for your ballot in the mail, then make full use of it. More than a right, it is a duty.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@auburn-reporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.auburn-reporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Opinion

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
How George Floyd’s death is changing history | Roegner

The death of George Floyd at the knee of Minneapolis Police Officer… Continue reading

Don C. Brunell is a business analyst, writer and columnist. He recently retired as president of the Association of Washington Business, the state’s oldest and largest business organization, and now lives in Vancouver. He can be contacted at thebrunells@msn.com.
Rethinking a natural gas ban in Washington state | Brunell

Sometimes being first isn’t good. Such is the case with legislation making… Continue reading

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Needle exchange program: Compassion vs. intolerance | Roegner

One of the more creative methods for treating drug users is the… Continue reading

Auburn resident Rick O’Neill. Courtesy photo
Auburn retiree embarks on bicycle adventure of a lifetime | Guest column

By Rick O’Neill, Special to the Auburn Reporter Bar Harbor, Maine, to… Continue reading

Stock photo
Access to cash is a prescription for better health | Guest column

By Danny Low, For the Reporter As I see pictures of my… Continue reading

An AR-15 and a loaded magazine were recovered from a suspect in a shooting incident at the Kent Station parking garage in 2019. (King County Sheriff’s Office)
Editorial: Lawmakers test public’s patience on gun laws

There were more than 24,000 firearm deaths last year, yet state and national lawmakers seem immovable.

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Violence Against Women Act becomes political victim | Roegner

The last thing this country need is to politicize violence against women.… Continue reading

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Voter suppression and the stolen election myth | Roegner

The next two years are going to be as partisan as the… Continue reading

Editorial: Restore voting rights to those who served time

Denying the vote to those who owe fines keeps many from fully rejoining their communities.

Stock photo
The right to vote helps rehumanize incarcerated people | Guest column

By Kim Bogucki, For The Reporter In 2008, I began asking incarcerated… Continue reading

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Bills for police reform move through Legislature | Roegner

One of the priorities for the House of Representatives this session is… Continue reading

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Challenging Gov. Inslee’s emergency powers | Roegner

The Legislature is now in session, meaning our break from politics was… Continue reading