Women's marches draw hundreds of thousands, focus on voting

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NEW YORK CITY (NBC) — Hundreds of thousands gathered around the nation Saturday, wielding signs and sporting pink hats, for women’s marches in numerous cities — the second such protest since President Donald Trump entered the White House.

The largest marches appeared to take place in Washington, D.C., New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles, but groups also amassed in Milwaukee, Denver, Dallas, as well as Montgomery, Alabama, and many other towns and cities across the country.

Some, though not all, were officially sanctioned by the larger Women’s March organization.

“We are proud that the movement ignited one year ago today is strong, loud, and undeterred,” the organization said in a statement on the eve of the March. “It's exciting to see how many people are still eager to organize marches and hit the streets.”

This second march seemed to take on a new importance, as people in the streets in major cities registered attendees to vote and people spoke of their responsibility as a member of a constituency. While most marchers came to share their opposition to the Trump administration, they also spoke about the importance of voting in the 2018 midterm elections.

Susanne Burger, a resident of Westchester, New York, and co-founder of Westchester Citizen Therapists, shared her concerns surrounding gerrymandering and voter disenfranchisement at the march.

“Marching builds a sense of empowerment, and hopefully that will carry over to voter registration and a persistent effort to turn this around. Because this is not acceptable," Burger said as she carried a sign that read "How to survive Trumpism: stay informed, be vigilant, take action, VOTE."

In Washington D.C., they called the event the "March on the Polls." The event's Facebook page said the point was to encourage women to engage "in the political process, including running for office, and it is vital that women and their allies continue to take an active role in 2018 elections."

Sen. Kristen Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., spoke to the crowds in Washington D.C., taking a break from the continuing government shutdown negotiations.

"If you care about winning back the House, flipping the Senate, then I urge you to support Democratic candidates all across the country," Gillibrand told a cheering crowd. "Whatever issue is most important to you, each one of you is an agent of change."

"This is our moment to stand tall, to fight back and be heard," the senator added.

Meanwhile, in Chicago, the crowd chanted, “Elect Women!” and “Vote!” and carried signs that read, "Grab 'em by the polls," "Don't boo, vote," "KISS my ballot," "First we marched, now we run" and "Stay angry and flip Congress in 2018."

But many at the demonstrations still shared their broad concerns about the direction of the country under the Trump administration, especially as it related to women’s rights, immigration, diversity and freedom of the press.