Kate Brennan is a college graduate who stumbles upon a picket line of woman suffragists outside the White House in Washington, DC, during the summer of 1918. Mistaken for one of the protestors, she is carted off to prison for fifteen days, where she suffers indignity and privation. Her sense of justice is aroused, and she begins to work with the National Women’s Party, inspired by strong, determined women in this final year of the fight for universal suffrage. Kate becomes a key figure in the struggle to convince senators to vote for the Susan B. Anthony amendment. Her growing involvement with the NWP takes her back to her native Colorado, where she heads a campaign against the incumbent Democrat, whose expressed support has failed to raise the requisite number of votes.
Although Kate’s adventures read quickly and are laced with drama and melodrama, the book is marred by clichés and anachronisms, as well as a certain sameness in the quality of the characters. Overall, the narrative style resembles that of a romance, yet the romantic elements are limited. The story is inherently interesting and deserves to be told, however, and despite its flaws, Downing’s research in The Vote reveals a fascinating side of this important moment in the history of women.