July 17, 2020
When Women Vote: Women’s Suffrage, Voter Access & Women’s Representation was a great conversation with Representative Andi Clifford (HD 33), Marguerite Herman of the League of Women Voters, Amber McReynolds author of When Women Vote, and Cynthia Richie Terrell founder of RepresentWomen.
Western States—like the Equality State!—were the source of many firsts for women’s suffrage:
- First for women’s suffrage: Wyoming becomes the first territory in the U.S. to recognize women’s inherent right to vote & hold office in 1869!
- First woman elected chief: Rosana Chouteau of the Osage Beaver Band of the Osage Nation in Oklahoma in 1875
- First elected Congresswoman: Jeannette Rankin in Montana in 1916
- First Governor: Nellie Tayloe Ross right here in Wyoming in 1925!
- First Republican woman to serve in the U.S. Senate: Gladys Pyle of South Dakota in 1938
And Western States continue to be leaders in voting reform efforts, voter turnout, and electing more women. Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington lead the way.
“Change the way we vote and more people vote. And when more people vote, more women get elected.”Amber McReynolds, CEO, Vote at Home Institute
That was the real focus of the conversation: How to make sure we have more people engaging with our democracy.
All four panelists shared their perspectives, their experiences, and their vision for voters, women, and our democracy. With a magic wand, here are just a few of the things they would change to make our democracy even more vibrant:
- Meet voters where they are! One example from Colorado of *literally* meeting voters where they are: A mobile voter unit (blockchain-based for active-duty military).
- Expand the number of seats in Congress. U.S. Congress serves as the model for most state and local governments. Use it to set a more diverse and inclusive example.
- Restore voting rights.
- Bring back multi-winner districts. A feature of Wyoming’s political landscape for decades, multi-winner districts are also part of the reason that Wyoming used to have a more diverse legislature than it does now.
- Electing more women. When we have a diversity of voices at the table, we end up with better policy and that benefits all of us.
Want to hear more of what the panel had to say? Check out the YouTube video where you can hear about … The fact that the Constitution doesn’t afford an affirmative right to vote … How indigenous women have always had leadership roles because they are the givers of life … The story of Colorado’s women’s suffrage citizens’ referendum in 1893 … and more!
If you still need to register to vote in 2020 or need more information about casting your ballot in Wyoming, check out the links on ESPC’s Voting 101 page.
The People’s Review: LIVE! is an ongoing, interactive, low-cost way for people across Wyoming to engage with ESPC’s mission, Wyoming’s government, pressing current events, subject matter experts, and each other. On the third Thursday of every month, PR: Live offers vital information to ensure transparent government, fair elections, and thriving communities.