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Oklahoma was among first states to allow women's right to vote

Today marks the 90th anniversary of women's suffrage, a decades-long struggle won by women who peaceably convinced male voters to share their power.
BY CARRIE COPPERNOLL Modified: August 26, 2010 at 9:10 am •  Published: August 26, 2010
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Voter fraud was rampant by anti-suffragists, but the measure passed. However, Gov. Robert Williams kept the results secret for weeks, Stone said.

Ratifying the 19th Amendment was difficult as well, though Oklahoma women could already vote, Stone said. Gov. James Robertson refused to call a special session, citing budget problems. Suffragists wrote letters to legislators, asking them to attend a session and pay for their own travel. They gathered, and the amendment was approved on Feb. 28, 1920.

Vote led to slow change

But constitutional change didn't necessarily equal social change, said Richard Johnson, a political science professor and interim dean at Oklahoma City University.

"Women did not vote at the same rate of men until this last generation," she said. "Now women vote at a slightly higher rate than men. Women didn't exactly rush out to take advantage of this new right."

The progress toward full equality is slow, Johnson said, but change is still happening.

"The right to vote is one of those things that opened up choices for women," Johnson said. "If they want to be the more traditional role of the housewife or if they want a career, there's a lot more choice than my grandmother had and my great-grandmother had."

Women must use the voting power they've been given, said Fran Morris, president of the nonpartisan League of Women Voters of Oklahoma County. The organization registers new voters and conducts voter education programs.

"We just have a very poor record of how many people get out and vote," she said. "People over in the Middle East stand in line for hours to vote. We just have to get a shovel and dig people out to vote."

Women have become more politically savvy, but there is still a ways to go, Morris said. She said women should educate themselves about candidates, issues and legislation. They should contact their lawmakers. Most importantly, she said, they should vote.


gender divide remains

American women's share of high-level political power still lags behind other nations. Women hold 17 percent of the seats in Congress — well below Europe's 22 percent and far behind the Nordic countries' 42 percent — and the major parties have yet to nominate a woman for president.

Associated press

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