The Women’s Vote in Wyoming
Wyoming holds a special place in suffrage history as the first known government to grant women the general, unconditional, and permanent right to vote (and to hold office) on the same basis as men.
Other states and countries have granted women the right to vote in limited circumstances. The Territory of Wyoming was the first to pass general and unconditional suffrage for female citizens.
What League Is and What League Does
The League of Women Voters is a grass-roots political organization which grew out of the woman’s suffrage movement after the 19th amendment was ratified in 1920 and women were able to vote on the same basis as men in all elections. We are nonpartisan and never either support or oppose political parties or individual candidates. We do research issues and come to consensus on our position, for which we then advocate actively. We encourage informed participation in the political process by all citizens.
When we want to adopt a position regarding an issue and then take action either for or against legislation affecting that issue, we require all the local Leagues, at the town or county level, to study that issue and come to consensus within themselves as to what position to adopt. Local Leagues report consensus to state Leagues, which in turn report to the national board. The national position is thus crafted through the research and debate of thousands of League members all over the country and all facts and conclusions checked repeatedly.
At election time local Leagues formulate questions on local issues for all candidates for an office and solicit answers which must be of the same length. These answers are then published, often with the cooperation of the local news media or local businesses, in a Voter Guide, so that voters can find out, in the candidates’ own words, what candidates think about those issues. We also organize forums in which voters can ask questions of the candidates and afterwards have an opportunity for one-on-one discussions. We also assist in voter registration drives, rides to polls, and place Don’t forget to Vote” signs and advertisements.
We have welcomed men as members for many years, but we preserve the name “League of Women Voters” for historical reasons. If you are interested in learning about issues in your locality, if you want to participate in the political process and advocate on issues, if you want to promote an informed electorate and encourage citizens to exercise their right to vote, the League is for you. In Wyoming every vote is tremendously powerful.
Female Suffrage History Highlights
- 1807: Women who owned property could vote in New Jersey until this date, when the State Assembly passed a law limiting suffrage to free white males.
- 1869: The Wyoming Territorial Legislature grants adult women (who are qualified electors) the right to vote and to hold office without conditions.
- 1870: On February 12, Utah Territory grants female suffrage to adult women (revoked in 1887 by Congress, restored in 1895 upon statehood).
- 1870: On February 14, Seraph Young and other women vote in Utah elections, the first known votes by women under general and unconditional female suffrage.
- 1870: On September 6, Louisa Swain of Laramie casts the first vote by a woman under Wyoming’s female suffrage franchise.
- 1871: An attempt by the Territorial Legislature of Wyoming to rescind female suffrage fails.
- 1890: Wyoming enters the Union with female suffrage intact, becoming the first state where women could vote under general and unconditional suffrage.
- 1893: Colorado becomes the first state to enact women’s suffrage by popular referendum
- 1893: New Zealand, a British colony, grants female suffrage.
- 1894: Australia, a British colony, grants female suffrage.
- 1920: The 19th Amendment gives equal voting rights to American women nationally.