SEATTLE - Today is Women's Equality Day, commemorating the date that
women got the right to vote in America, 89 years ago - and Washington
was ahead of the crowd, even back then. Our state allowed women to vote
ten years earlier, in 1910, although it was a hard-won battle that took
three 'tries' and more than 50 years.
According to the Secretary of State's historical election timeline, in
the 1800s, the liquor industry didn't want women to vote, afraid they
would use the ballot box to restrict alcohol sales. Lucy Copass,
community relations chair for the League of Women Voters of King County, says Washington women have been a political force since then.
"Women served in the State Legislature early on, and as mayor of
Seattle, and held responsible positions - so, we were in the vanguard
for women's suffrage."
Today, with a woman governor and two female senators, Washington is
still at the forefront. However, when it comes to equality in national
politics, there's a long way to go, says Copass.
"Certainly women are underrepresented in running for higher office.
Well over 50 percent of the population is women, and yet, only 74 out
of the 435 Congress people are women; only 17 out of the hundred
senators are women."
Copass says according to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 65 percent of
the women who are registered to vote in Washington cast ballots in the
2008 presidential election, although the turnout for this month's
primary, with mostly local races, was dismal for both sexes. Even with
the convenience of mail-in ballots in most counties, only about 30