Remarks on Woman Suffrage, October 23, 1915

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I RECALL an experience I had last year which did much to dispel any lingering doubts I may have had regarding the vote of the so-called "ignorant woman." Serving as a judge of election in the Hull House precinct, one of my duties was to enter the polling booth with any woman who could not read and write in order to read the ballot to her. I was constantly impressed with the shrewdness and direct common-sense with which most of these women marked their ballots.

In the long lists of public policy questions an Irish woman whom I knew very well marked her ballot with only one exception according to the advice given by the specialists of the City Club, reaching her conclusions wholly and solely through her own experiences, for although I was powerless to advise her she gave me a running comment of her reasons.

For instance, she voted against the bonds for an extension to the county hospital "if the same bunch have the spending of it who built it the first time without enough room for beds"; she voted against the proposed subway until "they try clearing the streets a bit"; she voted for a contagious disease hospital under the city health department for "sure the only time a mother is willing to let a sick child go out of the house is when she is scared to death about the others, but the hospitals always took in every other disease but the catching ones." She promptly voted against the bathing beaches on the lake front, in this differing from the expert advice, because "boys have so little sense anyway that there was no use tempting them to the lake to get drowned."

As she left the room passing through the lines of waiting men she gave me a delicious wink, "It galls the men some to have us voting, but from the questions put up to me it seems pretty much a woman's job."

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