Arizona began as a territory in 1863. Suffragists managed to get several bills introduced in 1881, 1883, and 1885, but all were defeated. In 1891, Josephine Brawley Hughes, Mary J.R. West, Mable Ann Hakes, and Frances Munds created the Arizona Suffrage Association, the first suffrage organization in the territory. As settlers started to push for statehood for Arizona, suffragists tried to make sure that women's right to vote would be part of the new state constitution. Arizona statehood was denied but settlers continued to lobby for statehood.
In the early 1900s, Frances Munds and Pauline Schindler O’Neill (no relation to artist Rose O’Neill), met through the Arizona branch of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (Episode 31). They formed a lifelong friendship and led the fight for suffrage in the territory. Munds did the unusual move reaching out to women of the Latter Day Saints (Mormons). Followers of the Church of Latter Day Saints were often discriminated against but Munds recognized the importance of including them.
A suffrage bill was passed in the territory’s legislature in 1903, but was vetoed by Governor Alexander Brodie who feared that women having the vote would hurt Arizona's chances for statehood. In 1910, Arizona was once again trying for statehood, and while women pushed for suffrage to be included in the new constitution, once again, Governor Brodie objected.
Arizona finally became the 48th state on February 14, 1912 but suffrage was not included in the constitution. So the women took matters into their own hands. Munds and O’Neill lobbied the new state legislature to let the men voters in Arizona decide, but this proposal lost by one vote. Undaunted, the suffragists went out and collected over 3,000 signatures so that women’s suffrage would be up as an amendment to the new state constitution in that November’s election.
For over four months, Munds and O’Neill held rallies, speaking events, parades, and door-to-door campaigns. They reached out to every group, every politician regardless of party, labor unions, and newspapers. The amendment passed with a total of 13,452 votes in favor and 6,202 against.
The passage of suffrage in Arizona did not mean that everyone who lived there now had voting rights. One-fourth of Arizona is composed of Native American Reservations and is home to 27 federally recognized tribes. Native Americans, both men and women, were not allowed to become American Citizens or vote until federal law passed 1924. Arizona continued to exclude those living on reservations until the State Supreme Court case, Trujillo v. Garley of 1948 voted in favor of Native American voting rights. Even today, Native Americans still face voter discrimination, The national level of the League of Women Voters has endorsed the 2019 (yes that's 2019) Native American Voting Act which is currently in Congress. (see links below)
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Episode 56 Sources:
More on the 2019 Native American Voting Rights Act