Atop a hill at Rosario Cemetery, fenced in an enclosure lined with pebbles, lays an inconspicuous marble plaque. As the sun sets on Election Day, purple flowers rest on the stone. And affixed to the top left corner is an oval sticker that says “I Voted.”
This is the gravesite of Adelina Otero-Warren, the early 20th century New Mexico figure who became a leader in the local suffragist movement. (She was briefly married to Rawson D Warren, a cavalry officer.)
As state leader for the Congressional Union, the radical advocacy group founded by Alice Paul, Otero lobbied hard for legislation enfranchising women. After years of false starts, on February 19, 1920, New Mexico became the 32nd state to approve a woman’s right to vote.
It was a clear victory for Otero, according to her biographer, Charlotte Whaley. “She emerged from the voting rights battle as something of a heroine in Santa Fe an intelligent, resourceful woman with a strong sense of justice,” Whaley writes.
Otero, a Republican, also became the first New Mexico woman to run for US Congress. Predictably, she faced some old-timey sexism. A columnist for The Santa Fe New Mexican wrote of the candidate, “Mrs. Warren is attracted by the bright social lights; not to monkey with the tariff, the transit of Venus, or that statemanly stuff.” Otero won her primary, but lost the general election.
Outside the realm of electoral politics, Otero worked as superintendent of Santa Fe County public schools, then an elected position, and chair of the state health board.
In 2013, Santa Fe Public Schools opened Nina Otero Community School in her honor.
Throughout Election Day, the first to feature a female presidential candidate, Americans shared photos of the headstone for Susan B Anthony, completely covered in stickers representing a vote.
The bragging rights, they seemed to say, belong to the women who made today possible. We peeled from our pocket our own sticker and added it to Otero’s stone.