As It Happens

Voters pay respects at Susan B. Anthony's grave on eve of historic U.S. election

Suffragette Susan B. Anthony's grave site in Rochester, N.Y. is covered in "I Voted" stickers. The city is extending the grave's visiting hours to mark a potentially historic result on Tuesday: that America could elect its first female president. Rochester's mayor, Lovely Warren, spearheaded the move.
Susan B. Anthony's headstone this week covered in "I Voted" stickers. Anthony, a U.S. suffragette, was charged in 1872 for attempting to vote illegally. Anthony died in 1906, before women gained the right to vote. (ANDREW CUTHBERTSON/FACEBOOK/WIKIPEDIA)

On Nov. 8 1872, Susan B. Anthony attempted to cast a ballot for U.S. president. Instead, the suffragette was arrested for her actions. The women's right to vote would only come into effect in 1920, years after Anthony's death.

Fast forward to Nov. 8, 2016 — the day America could potentially make history by electing a woman for president. And that kind of milestone isn't lost on voters in Rochester, N.Y.

That's where Anthony is buried. And it's become tradition for voters to place their "I Voted" stickers on her headstone. On Tuesday, Rochester will extend its visiting hours for those who want to pay homage to the women's suffrage icon.

The mayor of Rochester, Lovely Warren, spoke to As It Happens host Carol Off on Monday, on the eve of what could be an historic night for women's rights.

Carol Off: Mayor Warren, why have you extended your visiting hours for Susan B. Anthony's grave site for election day tomorrow?

Lovely Warren: We extended the hours because we know that tomorrow is going to be an historic election where we [could] elect the first president of the U.S. that's a female. And we wanted to pay respect to one of Rochester's great historians and a person who did so much for our community. 

A commemorative sticker the City of Rochester, N.Y. designed for voters who come to pay their respects at Susan B. Anthony's grave site. (CITY OF ROCHESTER)

CO: Is it a tradition for people to go to the grave site on election day?

LW: Yes. Especially women. But tomorrow is such an historic occasion. Usually, we close at 5 o'clock. But tomorrow we are going to stay open [until 9 p.m.]. We'll allow people to come and pay their respects because we know there are many women across the country that understand women's suffrage.

Lovely Warren is the first woman to be elected Mayor of the City of Rochester, N.Y. (CITY OF ROCHESTER)

CO: For people who don't know Susan B. Anthony, she was very famous suffragette. She cast a ballot for the presidential election Nov. 8, 1872. What happened to her?

LW: She was arrested, because she cast her vote illegally — at a time when women and African Americans weren't allowed to vote. It was only a thing for white men. Her and a number of other women decided they were going to go and vote. And they voted illegally. And when it was found out they voted illegally, they were arrested, tried and convicted.

CO: What does this mean to you? You were actually the first female mayor of Rochester, I believe.

LW: Yes. I'm the first female mayor and I was elected 141 years to the day that Susan B. Anthony cast her illegal vote so many years ago. It means everything to me because I know that had it not been for the sacrifices she made I wouldn't be able to serve this city in the capacity that I do.

CO: And your daughter, as I understand, she's six years old. Is this inspiring for her as well?

LW: Absolutely. My daughter, Taylor, is paying very close attention to what is happening in this election. She hears the things that are being said. She asks the very important question, "Why is this so important?" and "Mom, why are you supporting Hillary Clinton?" And I tell her, it's not just because she's a woman. But you have someone here who stood up for children and families [at the Children's Defence Fund]. She helped families who could not help themselves. And when I think about Susan B. Anthony, I think that she would be very, very proud that this country is looking to elect a woman who has the same values.

For more on this story, listen to our full interview with Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.