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June 10, 2019

Gilkey v. McKinley

Gilkey v. McKinley
75 Wis 543 (1890)

Women had the right to vote only in “school matters” and this was tested in 1887 by Olympia Brown’s case, Brown v. Phillips. The ability to vote in elections concerning school matters was additionally diminished when a close local election was decided by the margin of votes in a special voting box set aside for women. The runner-up sued, and the resulting Wisconsin Supreme Court decision, Gilkey v. McKinley, meant that clerks could not provide separate ballot boxes for women voting in certain local elections (which may involve “school matters”), nor could clerks inspect the women’s ballots to make sure they only voted on those items. It wasn’t until a decade later, in 1901, that the Legislature enacted a law requiring every precinct in the state to provide a separate ballot box for women voting on school matters. Prior to that time, women were unable to vote for school issues in elections which decided other matters or offices.

We have the Supreme Court briefs for this case in our library, and you can read them online as well: Gilkey v. McKinley.

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