I have converted to text from a jpeg document. Sometimes a few errors occur in the conversion process but I believe I caught all or most of them. The text was otherwise left just as written by Governor Steunenberg.
"I have been asked to give some practical observations on the system in
The state of
This placed in our constitution and in our statute-books a suffrage law of the most absolute and sweeping character. It placed both sexes on an exact equality, not only so far as voting is concerned, but also in holding office. There is no limitation of the suffrage to school and certain other public functions in which women are specially concerned, as is the case in some states, but the right to vote is universal, for municipal and county officers, state officers, senators and representatives in Congress, state legislators, and for presidential electors. The same equal privilege is open to hold office under the state, county, or municipality government.
The first general election to come after the adoption of the amendment was held in 1898. and at that time one woman, Miss Permeal French, was elected on the Democratic ticket to the office of State Superintendent of Public Instruction, and three women, a Democrat, a Populist, and a Republican, were elected to the Legislature. Miss French is a woman of superior ability and intelligence, and it is conceded by all that she is the best officer in that capacity the state .has ever had. The place she occupies is one of unusual importance with us, as the state superintendent of instruction prepares the course of study for all the schools of the state. administers the liberal and advanced system by which every school in the state has the same course of study and the same text-books, furnished free by the state, directs the general execution of the compulsory school law, under which every child of school age-between five and eighteen years-must attend school at least six months in every year; and, in addition to these educational duties, has general charge of the education of the deaf, dumb, and blind children. To carry on these various branches of public work, Miss French has an office at the state capitol, with a staff of assistants, and the business is performed in the most systematic and satisfactory manner. Of the three women in the Legislature it may also be said that they made most acceptable public officers, serving with ability and success.
In every case the women were regularly nominated at conventions of the several parties to which they belonged. A number of others were nominated and elected to county offices. In some cases the women placed in nomination were defeated at the polls, showing that they took the same chances of success or failure as the men. The fact that a candidate was a woman made no difference for or against her, the support being given with regard to the fitness of candidates rather than on any sentimental or emotional grounds. In theory it had been asserted that the gallantry of men would lead them to vote for women candidates, just as they would yield to women the seats of a crowded car, but in practice it was found that there was no such departure from the usual healthy rivalry between candidates. The only vital questions at the polls were those of merit and party.
Our experience has been similarly satisfactory in the orderly conduct at polling-booths, and the entire absence of those unseemly scenes and incidents which it had been feared might attend the presence of women at the voting-places. The women not only go to the polls to deposit their ballots, but they are there to electioneer, just as are men ; they work in behalf of candidates they consider best fitted for the public service, run carriages to bring in the voters, men and women, exactly like citizens older in suffrage rights. All this, however, is carried on in a most orderly and proper manner, and excites no more comment in the case of the women than it does in that of the men. We are fortunate in having the Australian ballot law, and this, together with a law closing all saloons on election day, insures an orderly procedure, without crowding about the booths, and with very little drunkenness.
The suggestion may be made that this activity of women in public affairs has operated to draw them away from their homes and from the usual domestic avocations, a suggestion that our experience amply disproves. In
Concerning the extent to which women in
In a general sense, there can be no doubt that the participation of women in our public affairs has had a most elevating influence. All parties see the necessity of nominating the best individuals of their parties. The natural aim of women is towards the best good of the community and to secure the highest social conditions. Instead of seeking extremes of reform, as had been predicted, they are interested in stable and conservative administration, for the benefit of the homes and the children, and they avoid radical and excessive reforms. In short, the objections which, in theory, have been urged against woman's participation in public affairs have been overcome by the actual application of the system in