Suffrage’s Cost High, Effect on Elections Nil

When trying to decide in 1917 whether to grant women the right to vote, men had several factors to consider beyond just the obvious “it’s the right thing to do” factor.

One was whether granting suffrage changed election outcomes. Another was how much extra it would cost, due to almost twice the number of new voters needing extra election machines, county clerks, and the like.

Illinois, which had already legalized the practice statewide, tracked women voters and found that it barely changed election outcomes at all. For the 1916 presidential election, Illinois men and women both voted for Hughes over Woodrow Wilson, with the margin only being 1.6 percent. The exact same margin was found for the Chicago mayoral race.

As for increased election costs, it was estimated that New York state would see expenses rise $2.8 million as a result, equivalent to about $52.7 million today. The article ends by referring to how that money could presumably be better spent as World War I raged on:

“In other words, the taxpayers of this State would be subjected through suffrage to an extra expense equal to about three times the amount of money spent on the spectacular suffrage campaign, and an amount sufficient to buy 57,400,000 rounds of ammunition for our troops.”

Suffrage’s Cost High, Effect on Elections Nil: Illinois, Only State with Accurate Records of Men and Women Voting Separately, Proves That Big Expense Leaves Results Unchanged

From Sunday, November 4, 1917

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