Chicago Hosts Women’s March to the Polls

By Evi Arthur and Zachary Wright
Torch Editors

Photos by Jordan Geriane, An Phan and Zachary Wright

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Winter coats and pink hats could be seen winding throughout the streets of Chicago as about 100,000 marchers tread through the city last Saturday, according to USA Today.

With the effort to gain more women voters, Women’s March to the Polls hosted a designated area to register voters. Trying to vye for first-time voters, the voter booths could be seen throughout the rally point.

Jim Allen on the Chicago Board of Elections, said women actually make up the majority of Chicago voters. “Women voters make up approximately 54 percent of our voter population,” Allen said. “But right now, they make up 59 percent of our vote by mail applications.”

The streets of Balbo and Congress closed for the afternoon. The rally, which included musical performances and speeches, took place on the intersection of Jackson and Balbo. The rally also had street vendors and Intelligesia Coffee handed out free cups of coffee.

“Young voters are the largest voting block in Chicago so we have recognized they can single-handedly change the outcomes,” said Claire Shingler, Women’s March Chicago executive director.

“We are aiming to open the doors of government to allow a new generation of leaders that will represent our voices and our communities,” Chicago Votes Alex Boutrous said in a press conference.

On Oct. 13, armed with homemade signs and warm winter wear, the Women’s March to the Polls met in Grant Park and began with a rally with speakers including mayoral candidate Lori Lightfoot and Heather Booth, the founder of the Jane Collective, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

“We have three weeks to go beyond Saturday until the election. Our choice of the march date was intention, so to activate voters and then continue to work others to the ballot,” Shingler said.

Women’s March Chicago board member Eman Hassaballa said to ABC7 the group aims to “use our voices and our votes to remove anti-female politicians from office.”

The marchers then took to the streets, marching west on Jackson, and ended the march at Federal Plaza where early-voting sites were set up, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. “Vote them out” and “No hate, no fear, immigrants are welcome here,” could be heard throughout the streets of Chicago.

“We’re here to bring change for future generations,” Pilsen resident Frances Valez said to Chicago Sun Times. “The government just showed [with Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation] — again — that it sees women as ‘less than.’ We can’t take that.”

The purpose behind the march was to encourage attendees to vote in the midterm elections, especially younger attendees who had never voted before. Marchers chanted things like “this is what democracy looks like” and “vote them out” as they made their way to the polls.

After recent events such as Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination and subsequent confirmation to the Supreme Court and Trump’s continuous attacks on immigration, there has been a focus on the midterm elections and changing the scope of politics.

“We’re reversing and going in the wrong direction. What happened?” Terry Riley said to ABC7. 

Shingler said their work is not ending after the rally. Throughout the rest of October, Women’s March to the Polls plans to work in swing districts.

“They’re paying attention to where we have the biggest opportunity to move the needle for Illinois towards more progressive ideals to elect and support women’s issues,” Shingler said.

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