Fact Sheet: Women and Elections

August 2019
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Once a Trailblazer of Women’s Voting Rights, Tennessee Now Trails Nation in Women’s Political Representation

August 18 marks the 99th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment. The date is an important civic milestone in America’s history, but especially here in Tennessee, which was the final and decisive state to vote in favor of the amendment’s adoption, providing millions of women across the country access to the ballot box for the very first time.

Today, Tennessee women outnumber men in both voter registration and turnout. But this power in the voting booth does not translate to power in elected office: Women in Tennessee hold far fewer seats in legislative, judicial and executive offices than in most other states.


  1. U.S. Census Bureau. (2018, November). Current Population Survey.
  2. U.S. Census Bureau. (2018, November). Current Population Survey.
  3. The Reflective Democracy Campaign. (2019, June). 2018-19 Demographics of Power. Retrieved from https://wholeads.us/resources/for-researchers/.
  4. The decline in women legislators occurred between 2017 and 2019, and the decline in women candidates occurred between 2016 and 2018. Source: The Reflective Democracy Campaign. (2019, June). 2018-19 Demographics of Power; The Reflective Democracy Campaign. (2018, October). 2018 Ballot Demographics. Retrieved from https://wholeads.us/resources/for-researchers/.
  5. For the sake of consistency, rankings have been standardized so that low numbers always reflect positive outcomes. In other words, being ranked 1st is always preferential to being ranked 50th. The national average in the percentage of women legislators is 29%. Nevada has the highest percentage with 52% and Mississippi has the lowest percentage with 14%. Source: National Conference of State Legislatures. (2019, July). Women in State Legislatures for 2019. Retrieved from http://www.ncsl.org/legislators-staff/legislators/womens-legislative-network/women-in-state-legislatures-for-2019.aspx.
  6. The national average is 33%. The District of Columbia has the highest percentage of women in courts with 49% and Arkansas has the lowest percentage with 15%. Source: National Association of Women Judges. (2018). 2018 US State Court Women Judges. Retrieved from https://www.nawj.org/statistics/2018-us-state-court-women-judges.
  7. Center for American Women and Politics. (2019). History of Women Governors. Eagleton Institute of Politics. Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Retrieved from https://cawp.rutgers.edu/history-women-governors.