Every three years there shall be an election of the Mother and the other three officers: assistant, treasurer, and procuratrix who will act as auxiliaries and councellors [sic] of the Mother. They shall not however all be elected the same year if possible….
The constitution directs two priests, the Reverend Superior and the Director, to supervise the election process. The incumbent community officers chose the two best qualified among the sisters as candidates for the open position in the weeks prior to the election. At the election, sisters cast their votes kneeling individually before the Reverend Superior and quietly speaking to him the name of their preferred candidate. Although the constitution acknowledges that distant mission assignments may prevent some sisters from casting votes, provisions were made for collecting votes of infirm sisters at bedside.
Turning to municipal, county, state, and federal elections, most of the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth resided in Western states and therefore gained the right to vote before the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920. Kansas, for example, granted women full voting rights on November 5, 1912. Of course, only U.S. citizens could vote. Sisters born abroad had to file naturalization papers before casting their ballots.
Community chroniclers of the 1920s and 1930s recorded the sisters’ unease as voters and disappointment when KKK-affiliated candidates won elections. This chronicle entry from 1938 reveals the effects of feeling unwelcome at polling places, many years after the fact:
A special plea at morning devotions for guidance in voting, which while it is a privilege, is always more or less dreaded by the Sisters, -- and yet everyone is so courteous and accommodating that the trip to the little rural school-house at Muncie is really no
hardship even though the day is cold. (…) With the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the information they have been able to accumulate about the various candidates, the
Sisters have done their best to put in capable, God-fearing men.
The first years the Sisters were permitted to vote, the majority of the “attendants” looked upon them with suspicion, especially as they half believed that the same persons kept coming and coming. To them all Sisters looked alike, and I suppose that by the time the
voters from the Mother House had all put in an appearance, it did look to the on-lookers
like a circle of blackrobes.
As we cast our votes on Tuesday, November 8, let us remember those who possess the right to vote, but face deterrents or discouragement at polling places as the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth once did.
 Constitution of the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent of Paul in America, copied by I. Schacht, January 26, 1857. Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Constitutions. Box 1, Folder 1. Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Archives.
Kansas Historical Society, “Women’s Suffrage” Kansapedia, 2012. Accessed October 13, 2016. https://www.kshs.org/kansapedia/women-s-suffrage/14524 )
 Community Chronicle. Volume 7, 126. Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Archives.