In 1915, New York had a ballot initiative to amend the state constitution to grant women the vote. The Empire State Campaign Committee, a coalition of several groups chaired by Carrie Chapman Catt, coordinated the efforts from New York City. The Committee published leaflets, distributed novelty items, and arranged lectures throughout the state. Delegates from across the state paraded through New York City to cap off the campaign on October 23. Locally, suffragists hosted speeches by prominent national figures at churches, including those in rural areas. They also had a booth at the Chemung County Fair. The initiative failed statewide, but passed in Chemung County with 52% of the vote.
A second initiative to grant New York women the vote was proposed in 1917. This time, the United States was fighting in World War I and suffragists were eager to show their patriotism and worthiness to vote by involving themselves in the war effort. Suffragists went door-to-door throughout the state collecting women’s signatures in support of the initiative and speaking directly to men. Having lost New York City in 1915, this time suffragists concentrated their efforts there with billboard advertising and street-level organizing. The initiative passed in New York City by an overwhelming margin, helping it to succeed despite a slight loss upstate. Overall, it passed by over 100,000 votes statewide.
Pro-suffrage flyers from the 1915 Empire State Campaign Committee