Australian suffragettes in London in 1911
In the nineteenth century, in the colony of Victoria in Australia, the Electoral Act 1863 was passed. According to the act, “all persons” who owned property were entitled to vote. Though it was not intended to include women in this, there were plenty in the state who did, indeed own property.
In the 1864 elections, some women took advantage of this error and went to the polling stations, where their votes were recorded:
“At one of the polling booths in the Castlemaine district a novel sight was witnessed. A coach filled with ladies drove up, and the fair occupants alighted and recorded their votes.”
The Argus , 5 November 1864, p 4.
The oversight was quickly fixed, and a new law in 1865 once again took voting rights away from women. However, Australia was very early in granting women full voting rights, in 1902.
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While the Commonwealth Franchise Act 1902 gave Australian women the right to vote in Commonwealth elections, at the state level women were able to vote in South Australia in 1895 and Western Australia in 1899. Victoria, which prides itself on being progressive these day, only gave them the vote in 1908 and didn’t permit women to stand for State Parliament until 1823!
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