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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Suffragists and the Initiative Process as the 1911 Oregon Legislature Meets

As they approached the election of 1912 Oregon suffragists believed that the system of initiative petition, part of progressive reform legislation known as the Oregon System, held great promise for empowering the people to enact legislation of importance to them. Oregon voters passed the initiative in 1902. With enough signatures of registered voters equaling a percentage of votes from the last election, citizens could place a measure on the next statewide ballot.
Suffragists used the initiative process to place a votes for women measure on the ballot in 1906, 1908, and 1910. In December 1910 they had enough signatures for the next campaign, well in advance of the deadline for the November 5, 1912 election.
I've been blogging about the Oregon 1911 legislature and state legislators' vote of support for the votes for women measure already in place for the 1912 ballot. This editorial cartoon from the Oregonian in January 1911 reflects the view of progressive Oregonians that the initiative process empowered the people to enact legislation (like votes for women) in spite of a recalcitrant legislature.
"Reckon You Won't Find Much Left To Do In There, My Friend," Oregonian, January 10, 1911, 1.