On Nov. 7th, the day after this year’s general election, Colorado will celebrate 125 years of women getting the right to vote.
The Atlas Obscura Society Denver will host a celebration event tonight at the historic Evans School. Activities include an interactive presentation by HistoriCity and a speech by Amber McReynolds, the executive director of the National Vote at Home Institute.
After two failed attempts, the women’s suffrage movement won voting rights for women by a state referendum in 1893. The amendment was drafted by J. Warner Mills, a Denver lawyer, and sponsored by state Rep. J.T. Heath of Montrose County. “The opposition saloonkeepers and brewers, who feared women voters would crack down on liquor, were not taking the suffrage campaign seriously and mounted little opposition,” according to an Internet article on the vote.
Colorado became the second state to enfranchise women behind Wyoming, paving the way for the passage of the 19th amendment in 1920.
One of the leaders in the suffrage movement was Eliza Pickrell Routt, the wife of Colorado’s first governor, John Routt.
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams has honored the former first lady and her contributions to women’s suffrage by naming an award after her. It goes to high schools where 85 percent or more of the senior class has registered to vote.
“When women got the right to, she was the first one to register,” he said.
Women hold top roles at the Colorado Secretary of State’s office. Hilary Rudy, the deputy elections director, already has voted in this election.
“I think it’s really important for everyone to vote, but I think in particular for women because if we don’t, then the people who hold office don’t reflect our values, they don’t reflect our needs,” Rudy said.
“I get to help make sure that the rules are followed, that everyone who is eligible gets a chance to vote. The women who went before us made sure that we had that chance, and in Colorado a lot sooner than in a lot of other places.”
Suzanne Staiert serves as the deputy secretary of state under Williams.
“It’s refreshing to work with someone who values fairness and equality,” Staiert said, “and to see those values lived out in how the secretary treats the clerks, his staff and voters.”