Everywhere you walked, whether it was on concrete or in ankle deep mud you could not help but bump into someone who traveled by bus, car or walked to take part in what will be the largest single event held at the NYS Capitol. You have heard of wall to wall people well this was road to road people! I started in one corner and spent the rally walking and talking. I stopped and spoke to people from Chemung, Broome, Ontario, Jefferson, Rockland, Erie, Onondaga, Lewis, Schenectady, Washington, Ulster, Putnam, Columbia, Greene, Westchester, Delaware, Oswego, Otesgo, Alleghany, Sullivan, Steuben, St. Lawrence, Orange, Yates, Seneca, Wyoming, Livingston, Oneida, Hamilton, Herkimer, Montgomery, Saratoga, Washington, Monroe and Wayne. (I had a pad of paper in my pocket and kept track so I would remember). I know I missed a few but coffee was calling and it was time to leave.
Each conversation started with, where are you from and are you registered to vote. I was struck by the number of people who told me that they were not registered to vote or have not voted in years – never thought it was that important. Now you may be thinking, “why would anyone answer that question from a stranger?’ Really? I’m a tall-63-inch- blonde- middle-age woman in a red coat with black rubber boots that have pink hearts – why wouldn’t you answer my question?
I thought as I walked and got stuck in the mud, if only you would have voted we would not be in this situation. If only you were engaged before today, we would not have this legislation passed under the cloak of darkness without legislators reading it. If only you understood just how important that vote really is!
I remember the first time I voted. Having a March birthday, the first opportunity I had to vote was at a school board election in my home town. I did my research to see who was running for the school board, read through the proposed budget, went to the polls and voted. I voted for one of four individuals and voted no on the budget. I found out that evening only 16 people voted no out of 1,645 people. I felt proud being one of the few who said, no. Since that day, I have voted at every election, but one. Since that day I’ve researched who was running, what they stood for, what they believed in and what they “promised” they would do. I reviewed every proposed budget or bond issue. I was prepared to cast my vote and still am. I can’t imagine not exercising that right.
How odd, I thought to myself as I walked to grab a cup of coffee, how odd 12,000 people are standing in support of a right granted by the Bill of Rights, when so many of them don’t exercise the most important right they have – the right to vote and determine the future.
So what I hope happens next is that every single person who came to the 2nd Amendment Rally in Albany vote in the next election and every election after that. That is what I think is the next and the most important step.