Women’s March focuses on voter registration at Las Vegas event


HARI SREENIVASAN: Las Vegas is the site of today's massive women's rally dubbed "Power to the Polls". Organizers say they want to turn the energy and activism from the women's marches into action at the voting booth. This weekend, women rallied across the country and around the world. Many voiced their anger at President Trump and called out sexual misconduct taking the online "Me Too" to the streets. The goal of today's event in Las Vegas is to flip swing states and register new voters. NPR's Layla Fadel is in Las Vegas and joins me now via Skype. First of all Layla, why Las Vegas is the place to kick off this particular campaign?

LEILA FADEL: Well, organizers say this is an example of a battleground state that has had successful grassroots organizing. It went to Hillary Clinton in 2016, it elected its first female Latina senator. There are a lot of grievances involving women including the governorship here. So they said they wanted to highlight this place on a national stage as an example of that.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Last year it was specifically to protest President Donald Trump. This year are there different reasons?

LEILA FADEL: Well, it still is a protest against this administration for sure and a lot of conservative women say they don't really feel welcome at these marches. But it's also not just about protest. It's about telling people to get to the polls and to turn it into political power to take the momentum and the energy of the marches we saw yesterday across the country and last year and make that into something at the polls. There's a record number of women running for office this year. Groups like Emily's List which trains and progressive women to run for office say that more than 26,000 have signed up across the country.

HARI SREENIVASAN: So there's been a lot made over the past year on exactly who comprises these women's marches and this resistance. What have organizers done to deal with that?

LEILA FADEL: Well, you know last year one of the big criticisms that was that these marches comprised of mostly white liberal women. And so when I spoke to the organizers this year they said that diversity doesn't come without intention. So they said that over the last year they've been reaching out to marginalized communities, to minorities, to the disenfranchised, to those who often don't feel they have a voice and try to make sure that they're represented. So today's rally, for example, was opened by a Native American speaker who spoke about the issues that plague Native American women, including the number of women being murdered – Native American women one of the highest rates in the country. And so, that is the intention. It is a pretty diverse crowd here today – mostly local. And the marches in general have been more localized this year.

HARI SREENIVASAN: All right. NPR's Layla Fadel joining us via Skype from Las Vegas tonight.Thanks so much.

LEILA FADEL: Thank you.

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Women’s March focuses on voter registration at Las Vegas event first appeared on the PBS NewsHour website.

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