Thursday, May 7, 2020

Why did Long Beach women get to vote in 1899?

Long Beach in 1897

Why did Long Beach Women Get to Vote in 1899 when other women in California could not vote until 1911?

From Suffragists of Early Long Beach:

The City Board of Trustees authorized an election on June 18, 1899 to determine whether the city would enter a contract with the Bouton Water Company to provide water for the city. The Los Angeles Times noted that:

The election is of no legal effect, but is morally binding upon the City Trustees, who were elected on a platform providing that, upon petition of a majority of voters who voted at the last municipal election, the board shall call a special election to determine any question stated in the petition. Today’s election was not called in response to such a petition but was indirectly brought by a motion made by City Trustee Wood.

Wood’s motion was submitted to a public “mass meeting” at which attendees asked the City Trustees to hold a special election.

Voting at the special election was done using the “Australian ballot system” or secret ballot and was limited to “property-owners.” This resulted in fifty women voting, whose votes were described by the Los Angeles Times as “a novelty and privilege which they appeared to enjoy very much.”  Three hundred thirty votes were cast: 184 for and 146 against. Long Beach women would not vote again until 1911.

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