When did women in your state get the right to vote?

In 1915 when this drawing was made, the Western states were rapidly enfranchising women.

While we commemorate the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920 as when American women won the right to vote, in fact, some groups of American women were voting 50 years before the Nineteenth Amendment and others didn’t receive the voting rights promised by the Nineteenth Amendment until almost 50 years after its ratification.

First, there was this one little blip in American suffrage history…

  • July 4, 1776: New Jersey was the only state to join the Union with voting rights for some women. Unfortunately, the New Jersey Legislature rescinded those rights in 1807.

The modern movement for American women’s suffrage started in the territories, not the states.

  • On December 10, 1869, Wyoming Territory passed legislation enfranchising women.
  • Not to be outdone by its neighbor, Utah Territory enfranchised women on February 12, 1870.
  • Two days later, on February 14, 1870Utah Territory held the first American election where women could vote since New Jersey women lost the right in 1807. Utah women voted for 17 years before Congress overruled Utah’s suffrage law and revoked Utah women’s suffrage.
  • Washington Territory gave women the right to vote on November 23, 1883 but courts overturned Washington’s suffrage law in 1887.  The Washington Territorial Legislature quickly passed a new suffrage law on January 18, 1888, but it was also overturned within a few months.

The first states to enfranchise women were in the Mountain West.

  • Wyoming became a state on July 10, 1890, making it the first and only state with women’s suffrage.
  • Colorado enfranchised women on November 7, 1893.
  • Utah became a state on January 4, 1896. Suffrage for women was included  in Utah’s state constitution, reinstating the voting rights Congress had taken away from Utah as a territory.
  • Idaho gave women the right to vote on November 3, 1896. Idaho was the fourth state to enfranchise women and would be the last to do so for over a decade.

In the 1910s, the suffrage movement finally gained momentum.

  • Washington state gave women the right to vote on November 8, 1910.
  • When California enfranchised women on October 10, 1911, the number of women with voting rights in the United States approximately doubled.
  • On November 5, 1912, successful ballot initiatives enfranchised the women of Arizona, Oregon and Kansas.
  • Legislation passed on June 26, 1913 made Illinois the first state east of the Mississippi where women could vote in presidential elections. However, Illinois women were still excluded from many other kinds of elections.
  • Alaska Territory gave women the right to vote on March 21, 1913.
  • Montana and Nevada gave women the right to vote on November 3, 1914.
  • New York women won the right to vote on November 6, 1917.
  • On November 5, 1918, women in Michigan, Oklahoma and South Dakota won the right to vote.
  • The Nineteenth Amendment was ratified August 18, 1920, extending voting rights to women in all states.

Even after the Nineteenth Amendment, many American women still had to fight for voting rights.

  • The Indian Citizenship Act was signed on June 2, 1924, making it possible for Native American women and men to vote.  (But some states continued to bar indigenous people from voting in spite of their citizenship.)
  • While the Nineteenth Amendment enfranchised women living in places with statehood, women in the territory of Puerto Rico remained disfranchised until April 18, 1929, when literate women in Puerto Rico were given the right to vote.
  • Puerto Rico enacted universal suffrage on March 23, 1935.
  • The Voting Rights Act was signed on August 6, 1965, finally making the voting rights promised by the Nineteenth Amendment a reality for women of color who had been disfranchised through discriminatory voting laws.
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April Young Bennett

April Young Bennett is the author of the Ask a Suffragist book series, host of the Religious Feminism Podcast and a writer for the Exponent II. For more information about April, see aprilyoungb.com

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2 Responses

  1. Em says:

    Go Oregon!! I’m getting excited for the centennial

  2. ElleK says:

    I’m fascinated by New Jersey–I had no idea they allowed some women the vote so early! How devastating for rights to be revoked instead of expanded. Learning about women’s disenfranchisement throughout history is devastating, but it has given me so much gratitude for our feminist foremothers and the privileges we enjoy today.

When did women in your state get the right to vote?