Winning in California

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Boye Poster

This image was designed by artist Bertha Margaret Boye and won the 1911 poster competition to promote the California campaign.

Nationally, the suffrage initiative was stalled. However, in five states - Wyoming, Colorado, Washington, Utah, and Idaho - women could now vote. "Why not in California" was the question. In 1911, the progressive Republican Party swept into office and the suffragists saw their chance. They organized a massive campaign across the state.

In February, the amendment passed the Senate with only 12 opposing votes. It would now be presented to the voters for ratification. One assemblyman stated "It's a fine thing to think that there may be fifty-four men in this House weak enough to be led by women." There was still much work to do!

Supporters distributed over 3,000,000 pieces of literature, 90,000 "Votes for Women" buttons in Southern California alone, and other suffrage paraphernalia.  They helped organize local suffrage societies. One such society was the Eighth Amendment Club of Boulder Creek.

When Charles Turner of Santa Cruz, and recently from New Zealand, the first self-governing country in the world in which women had the right to vote, spoke to the club in the Fireman's Hall, the Mountain Echo reported that he gave "many unanswerable arguments why the disenfranchised part of our race should be given the ballot."

When it came to the October 10 election, the results from the big cities came in first. The next day, "Santa Cruz County Supports the Women," reported the Sentinel.

However, it was somewhat of a surprise that in San Francisco and Oakland the men voted so strongly against the measure.  All seemed lost, but then by the following morning, October 12, with 658 precincts still to report, the nays only had a majority of 808.  Since the precincts still to report were rural precincts, and expected to be in favor, it was reckoned and reported that the suffrage amendment had in fact carried - which it did by a majority of just 3,587 votes out of a total of 246,487.


Equal Suffrage Wins Headline

Now the incorporated town of Boulder Creek was still dry in 1911, and there was a concern that a vote for suffrage might be a vote for statewide prohibition. In the results table below, the measure failed to pass in several of the local precincts.

1911 Local Vote