North Dakota's Ratification of the 19th Amendment (Part 1)
[Dakota Datebook: 100 Years of Women Voting is produced in cooperation with the North Dakota Woman Suffrage Centennial Committee.]
The right for women to vote was disputed for decades. Women and men alike populated both sides of the debate. Proponents united in rallying behind the push for change, which eventually resulted in the passage of the 19th Amendment.
This political discussion of women’s rights to vote had been around even in the 1800s, and was part of the discussion during the formation of the nation’s territories and states. In North Dakota, women’s suffrage had been discussed as the new state’s constitution was crafted, a few months before statehood was granted, in July 4, 1889. However, women’s suffrage did not win approval.
On June 4, 1919, the United States Senate approved the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. The Resolution read, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”
Once the amendment successfully passed through the Senate and House by a two-thirds majority, the proposal had to be approved by three-fourths of the states as well.
In North Dakota, Governor Frazier issued a proclamation, drawing the state’s legislators to a special session in late November. The issues he wanted to act upon included aid for farmers in drought-stricken districts; enacting legislation to aid the state’s industrial program; and, of course, the ratification of the woman’s suffrage amendment.
The joint resolution was quickly passed in the Senate, with 3 absent and not voting, four against, and 41 in favor. In the House, a few more days went by before the final vote on December 1st; again, it passed, with 5 absent and not voting, 6 against, and 102 for it.
On this date in 1919, the bill to ratify the 19th Amendment was officially signed by the North Dakota Speaker of the House and the President of the state Senate.
Dakota Datebook by Sarah Walker
North Dakota Senate Journal Special Session 1919
North Dakota House Journal Special Session 1919