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ON the theory that all power and authority is inherent in 77. the people as a whole, the electorate-the voters-may be Electorate thought of as constituting an organ of government, existing for Government. the purpose of determining the nature of governmental organization and functions and of choosing the individuals who are actually to perform the work of government. As democracy becomes more and more a fact, the electorate and the people become more nearly synonymous. The electorate is in practice an irresponsible and self-perpetuating body; it dictates certain qualifications for those who would enter its closed corporation. What these qualifications are-who shall compose the all-pow erful electorate-is the question of first importance in American fundamental law and is accordingly given first place among the present chapters discussing separately the leading provisions of the state constitutions.
Every constitution prescribes certain requirements which a 78. person must fulfill in order to vote. Requirements of citizen- tions for ship, residence and age are always found and every state excludes certain specified classes of people, chiefly criminals and persons of unsound mind. Interesting clauses requiring that the voter must be of good character," or must have paid taxes?
1General References: Sumner, Helen L., Equal Suffrage; Crothers, Samuel McChord, Meditations on Votes for Women; Hearings of Committee on Woman Suffrage, U. S. Senate, 63rd Congress, 1st Session; Mathews, S. (Ed.). Woman Suffrage; The Woman's Journal (weekly); Stephenson, G. T., Race Distinctions in American Law; Phillips, J. B., Educational Qualifications of Voters.
In the state. United States or both. The following states do not require voters to be United States citizens: Ala., Ark., Ind., Kan., Mo., Neb., Ore., S. D., Tex., in all of which intention to become a citizen must have been declared, in Ala., before the ratification of 1901 constitution. Mass (Amend. III) requires that voters must be "citizens."
In the state from three months (Me.) to two years (e. g., N. C.), and usually for varyingly less periods in county and precinct.
421 years, invariably.
"Paupers are occasionally excluded. An interesting and unique exclusion is found in the Ida. (VI, 3) requirement that a person is disfranchised who belongs or contributes to an order, corporation or society teaching or advising that the laws of the state prescribing rules of civil conduct are not supreme law of the state.
See Ala., VIII, 180; Conn., VI, 2; Ga., II, sec. 1, par. 4; Vt. II, 34.
are found in a few constitutions. The most noteworthy qualifications for votings today are, however, those of sex, education, ownership of property, payment of poll taxes and the so-called "grandfather clauses." Of these by far the most important is that of sex. The question of allowing women to vote is the one big unsettled problem concerning the composition of the electorate that is today receiving wide public discussion.
Eleven states have completely abolished the requirement that voters must be of the male sex. Wyoming began the movement Qualification. in 1869, but by the end of the century only three states had followed the lead. The latest states to adopt equal suffrage were Nevada and Montana in 1914. In the fall of 1915, constitutional amendments for granting it received 1,234,470 votes in the great eastern states of New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, but in each of these states the amendment was overwhelmingly defeated. During the campaign the Literary Digest1 polled the press of the country and ascertained that of 526 editors, replying freely from every state, 391 favored equal suffrage, 97 opposed it and 38 were undecided. Of these editors 237 thought that their community favored it; 156 that their communities were opposed and 133 that they were undecided. Of the last a large number were reported as "rapidly becoming more favorable.”2
Woman Suffrage in the Constitutions.
The simplest way to amend a constitution so as to establish equal suffrage is to strike out the word "male" or "men" in the suffrage clause, leaving the meaning that all persons are eligible to vote if they possess the other qualifications. Most of the suffrage states, however, have deemed it necessary to say positively that women may vote, or that the suffrage shall not be qualified by sex.1
"Different qualifications for different elections, state, local, school, etc., sometimes occur.
Ariz., Cal., Col., Ida., Kan., Mont., Nev., Ore., Utah, Wash., Wyo. Also Alaska.
1Results given in the issue of Oct. 9, 1915. (Vol. 51, No. 15.)
2In 1916, S. D., W. Va., will vote upon the extension of the franchise to women. It has already been voted upon and defeated in Ia.
Thus the Montana amendment of 1914 simply omitted the word "male" from Art. IX. sec. 2.
For the Wyo. provisions, see I, 3; VI, Suffrage 1. See, also, Ariz., VII, 2, 3; Cal., II, 1; Colo., VII, 2; Ida., VI, 2; Kan., V. 8; Mont., IX, 2, Amend. 1914; Nev., Amend. 1914; Ore., II, 2; Utah, IV, 1; Wash., VI, 1. The Col. provision allows legislature to refer the matter to a popular vote. Woman suffrage was accepted in 1893.
A gentle method of introducing woman suffrage is indicated by the Wisconisn Constitution (1848), which authorizes the legislature to extend the right of suffrage by law to "persons" not enumerated in the constitution, provided such law be approved at a general election by a majority of all the votes cast.
The legislature of Illinois, indeed, without any sort of constitutional authorization, has extended to women the right to vote in elections other than those for officers named in the constitution. This includes presidential electors, but not members of Congress. Likewise in Iowa the legislature has provided that women may vote at all school and municipal elections and all elections upon any proposition to vote bonds or increase taxes."
The constitutions of eight states1o provide that women may vote at school elections, as did several of the other states now having full suffrage for women. In New Mexico this privilege is left to the vote of the individual school districts.1
In Michigan when a question is submitted to the vote of electors involving direct expenditure of public money or issue of bonds, every woman having qualifications of male electors who has property assessed for taxes in any part of the district or territory to be affected by the result of the election is entitled to vote thereon.
In New York women otherwise qualified may vote on the question of incorporating villages and at town meetings on questions of raising money by taxation, if they own property assessed upon the last preceding assessment roll.3
The participation of women in local elections has long been customary in many countries, notably England and many of the
Uhle, Jno. B., Political Science Quarterly, IX, 1 (5). Const. Wis., III, 1. See, also, N. D., V, 122; S. D., VII, 2.
"Laws of Ill.. 1913. p. 333.
See federal constitution I, 2; 17 Amendment, 1. Electors for Senators and Congressmen are the same as for the most numerous branch of the state legislature.
Iowa Code, 1897, sec. 1137. 25th Gen. Assembly, ch. 39 (1895). "Instances of women voting in the United States in the eighteenth century have been recorded. Utah as a territory allowed women to vote 1870-1887. Women have full parliamentary electoral privileges in Australia, New Zealand, Isle of Man, Finland, Norway, Denmark and Iceland. Several of the Canadian provinces have extended the suffrage to women.
10Ida., VI. 2; Minn., VII, 8 (also library elections); Mont., IX, 10; N. M.. VII, 1 (subject to vote of individual districts); N. D., V, 128; Okla., III, 3; S. D., VII, 9; Wash., VI, 2. See, also, Ky., 145, 155.
1VII, 1. A dozen other states have statutory school suffrage for women. 2III, 4. See also Mont. IX, 12.
Consolidated Laws of New York, 1909, pp. 4439 and 4246.
81. Arguments for and Against Woman Suffrage.
British Colonial possessions. It was granted in certain cities. of Kansas before the full suffrage was given.*
Probably no public question has ever been accorded more widespread discussion or evoked more varied and diverse opinion than that of "votes for women" in the United States. A few examples may prove interesting.
When confronted with the problem of voting as a citizen of his state upon a constitutional amendment obliterating sex distinction in the electorate, the President of the United States announced his decision in the following words,
I intend to vote for Woman Suffrage in New Jersey because I believe that the time has come to extend that privilege and responsibility to women of the State, but I shall vote not as the leader of my party in the Nation but only upon my private conviction as a citizen in New Jersey, called upon by the Legislature of the State to express his conviction at the polls. I think that New Jersey will be greatly benefited by the change."
The same day the New York World, commenting editorially upon similar decisions by certain members of Mr. Wilson's cabinet, made this statement,—
Democratic principles overthrew the property qualifications for voters and established manhood suffrage. To overthrow the sex qualification and establish equal suffrage is a logical application of those principles. Nobody who really believes in democracy and all that democracy implies can consistently oppose the amendment giving women an equal share in determining the policies of government.'
Similarly Dr. Crothers invites us to meditate upon the proposition "That the driving power of the movement for equal suffrage is not Feminism but democracy," at the same time calling attention to the assumptions "That equal suffrage is not the first step in an impending revolution, but only a necessary adjustment to the results of a revolution that has already happened," and "That a voter does not vote all the time, but is
'Session Laws of 1887, ch. 230. For a comprehensive account of "Local Woman Suffrage," see M. Ostrogorski, Political Science Quarterly, VI, 677 (1891). "Press dispatch. New York World, Oct. 7, 1915.
Oct. 6, 1915.
On March 14, 1915. the World, in a striking two-column editorial, announced itself in favor of equal suffrage on the ground of democratic consistency. Meditations on Votes for Women.
allowed a number of days off in order to attend to his private business"; the last remark, of course, being in reply to the frequently used argument that the exercise of the ballot will distract women from their domestic duties.
The argument that women by means of the ballot can and will accomplish certain reforms appeals to other thinkers. Thus Mr. Robert Underwood Johnson' was convinced of the advisability of extending the suffrage to women, among other reasons,
by the fact that equal suffrage is opposed by several objectionable classes. No doubt many sincere and patriotic men and women are opposed to suffrage, but there are elements of sordidness in the opposition that have no counterpart on the other side. For obvious reasons the rank and file of professional politicians of both chief parties . . . are against the entrance of women to political power, while the liquor interests are solidly and aggressively, though so far as possible secretly, at work to defeat the amendment. I believe that here, as abroad, even among men who are not abstainers, there is a great awakening to the fact that the drink evil is a monstrous obstacle to national progress. It is women chiefly who suffer from it, as they do from war, and their intelligent and reasonable influence will be exerted as inevitably against one as against the other. In this respect, their further participation in responsible government will be an immense public benefit. Should the amendment fail in New York, it will probably be due to the fact that every saloon in the state is a recruiting station for the opposition, and the defeat itself would be a conclusive argument for a speedy reconsideration of the question.
To the president of the largest of the world's colleges for women1 American democracy seems undeniably a failure in many respects and for the solution of its problems of citizenship every possible resource should be used; "the greatest of these resources is one-half of our population-women."
To still others, like former Secretary Garrison, the proposition is harmless and by granting women the right to vote
a great subject which is now diverting the attention of the people from vital public questions will have been removed from the arena of discussion.
In the New York Times, Oct. 11, 1915. Mr. Johnson is editor of the Century. 'Dr. Marion Leroy Burton, of Smith College; his speech in Springfield, Mass., Oct. 31, 1915, is discussed in the Knoxville Journal and Tribune, Nov. 7, 1915. The Secretary of War's announcement that he would vote for equal suffrage was made Oct. 2, 1915. See New York Times, Oct. 3.