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Mountain Voices On The 2022 Midterm Elections

Hendersonville vote sign
The polling site in Hendersonville saw a steady flow of early voters.

More than two million North Carolinians took advantage of early voting in the 2022 midterms, which wrapped up on Saturday. The BPR news team has been visiting polling sites, talking with voters across Western North Carolina about the issues that are driving them to the polls this year.

In Franklin, voters had a wide range of opinions.

Michael Davey moved to Franklin from Durham, just over a year ago. “I'm new to Franklin. The demographics here are quite a bit different. ” Davey says for him, democracy is the biggest issue on the ballot.

For Konda McCauley, it’s the economy. “We’ve got to get it straightened out. This administration has almost ruined their country,” says McCauley. “We need some Republicans back in office. I want people in there who are against abortion.”

“I think it's a citizen's obligation to vote,” says Bob Justin. “No big issues this time. I just wanted to vote for the people that I'm aware of, people in town here that I know.”

Lilly Knoepp
Theresa Davis was crocheting a dish towel for a co-worker while volunteering at the polls in Sylva.

“I would really like to see Roe versus Wade codified ,” says Theresa Davis who was voting in nearby Sylva. “I would really like to see women's rights being respected. I would like to see people all being taken care of and everyone be safe.”

“It's my responsibility as a citizen,” says Sylva resident Guilford Smith who served in Vietnam and other places around the world with the Marine Corps. “It's something I fought for us to have and it means a lot - and also I want to change the way the country's been going the last two years.”

Down the road in Asheville, Tyler Jones said a need to participate drew him to the polls. “There's just so much rhetoric involved with our national politics right now that I don't really like to pay attention to, which I think is a dangerous place to be,” says Jones as he left the polling site at the Dr. Wesley Grant Sr. Southside Center on Livingston. “And I felt the only way that I could make any sort of difference in that is just to participate.”

North Asheville Early Voting.jfif
Matt Peiken
The line for early voting in North Asheville.

Housing and the cost of living top Asheville native Sharon Wright’s list. “Elderly people are having such a hard time . That's, my main focus because there are people coming in wanting to buy your property at a time you can hardly keep up with your bills,” says Wright. “I don't want to give up my property, I don't want that. That's why I get out and vote. There’s got to be a change here in Asheville, because the cost of living is just, it's absolutely too high.”

Noah Poulos cast his ballot at the library in North Asheville. “I've learned a lot recently about how important the local elections are and how oftentimes that's overlooked by some of the bigger senate and house rac,” says Poulos. “So I felt really inspired to learn and read up and make informed decisions about the folks directly involving our community.”

“My mom has always been super active politically and she asked me if I had voted,” said Savannah Kimbrough. “And I felt the urge to just come out here and have my voice heard.” The environment tops Kimbrough’s list.

“For me, the recent Dobbs decision is weighing heavily still,” says Rachel Hines of Asheville. “And so that is a big impetus to come out and support candidates at every level that are going to protect women's rights.”

Half an hour away in Hendersonville, voters filled the Board of Elections parking lot. “Religion plays an important role” said Stephanie Smith. “There are several issues that are important to me, from a religious perspective,” says the Hendersonville resident. “LGBT, the right to carry arms - it's just a lot of different things that matter to me that makes this important.”

Melisa Escobar_Hendersonville_EarlyVoting_HC.jpg
Helen Chickering
Melisa Escobar grew up in Venezuela and has lived in Hendersonville for 23 years.

Melisa Escobar grew up in Venezuela and has lived in Hendersonville for 23 years. “Part of what I love about this country is the democracy,” says Escobar. “We vote because we want to express our opinions.”

This year feels more important to Escobar. “There are so many basic things on the line. As a woman and as an immigrant, I want to keep my opinion, tell them how I feel. So that's what I vote.

Helen Chickering is a host and reporter on Blue Ridge Public Radio. She joined the station in November 2014.
Lilly Knoepp serves as BPR’s first fulltime reporter covering Western North Carolina. She is a native of Franklin, NC who returns to WNC after serving as the assistant editor of Women@Forbes and digital producer of the Forbes podcast network. She holds a master’s degree in international journalism from the City University of New York and earned a double major from UNC-Chapel Hill in religious studies and political science.