At a few polling locations across Winston-Salem, voters were out casting their ballots and had a lot to say about the importance of fulfilling their civic duty. 

Some voters said they came out to vote for specific issues related to education, health care, and the economy.

Bettina Barabe, a voter and poll worker at Miller Park Recreation Center, said the school board was her main concern.

“I want to make choices for my child, and decisions. And this current school board was not doing that for me,” she said. “They were not following my values.”

Britteny Wilson, 34, voted at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center. She said she’s voted in every election since she turned 18, and appreciated the chance to make a change. 

“I just want things to get better in the communities and economy, you know, better variety of helps and stuff for people, because everybody has different living situations,” she said. 

Michael Laney, at the Salem Chapel polling place in Winston-Salem’s Northwest Ward, said the economy is an important issue for him.

"I think trying to get people in that are going to do things here for the middle class and stuff is really important," he said. "The inflation is running rampant. It's really hard to — I'm making the most money I've ever made in my life and I'm still trying to make ends meet. That's kind of a weird juxtaposition."

Stephanie Goodwin, a long-time North Carolina resident and veteran, says that health care accessibility is a big concern for her. She voted at Latino Community Services.

“I feel that everybody should get the opportunity to have the freedoms that I get,” explains Goodwin. “Medicare specifically should be made accessible for most people.”

Some voters said they were concerned about a broader issue — threats to democracy. 

“I think that this election, locally, statewide and nationally, is an election that will be one that will determine the course of America. Whether or not we remain a democracy, or whether or not we will find ourselves running down the road of dictatorship,” said Nelson Malloy at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center.

Dee Edelman, a voter and poll greeter at Latino Community Services, said democracy was her first concern in this election.

“I think after January 6, it's pretty obvious that democracy is in danger. And I would like this country to survive as a democracy,” she said. “That more than anything else.”

Some said the midterm election is an opportunity for voters who don’t gravitate toward any major parties to come out and cast their ballots. The number of unaffiliated voters in North Carolina has grown significantly, and new voter registration shows many are no longer gravitating toward the major parties.

Lisa Wilson, a poll worker at Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, says she’s seen a higher turnout of voters during the midterm elections than the primaries. 

“In the primary, you vote straight Republican or Democrat. Here they have their choice,” explains Wilson. “In this one, you get all of them ... because it doesn’t matter what you are, it’s who you choose.”

Goodwin says that social media and readily-available information might have a play in this. 

“I feel like there’s more opportunities as far as independent,” says Goodwin. “Compared to when I was younger, now you can see a little bit more and you have the platform to see the differences and people can put their names out there more.” 

Overall, voters seemed to put the candidates’ views and character as a priority. Phyllis Glaspie, a longtime voter at Latino Community Services, says her priority when looking at candidates isn’t their political party. 

“Affiliation doesn't matter to me,” explains Glaspie. “You know, it's what you're going to do to make things better. And what's important to me to be made better.”

Glaspie and others said regardless of the reason, voting is a right that people should exercise.

“My main thing is, people died so I could vote. And it's important to me to honor them,” Glaspie said. 

Mark Ropko, at the Salem Chapel polling location, had similar feelings.

"Voting in general, just being a part of whether it's the change or whether it's the same. It's the United States," he said. "I'm happy to be in this country where we get to vote for our leaders. And I think to me, that's probably the most important issue."

Mary Medley, at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, said she’s been voting for about 50 years.

“I’d like for everybody to come out to vote. Your word carries a lot over there, you know, you may not think so. But every vote counts,” she said.

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