Angela Chapman took her 7-year-old to vote, to show him that it’s important to turn out.
Lisa Kerns showed up in person, even though she wasn’t sure that her polling place would accommodate her wheelchair, because she wanted people to “know that I am here to use my voice.”
Joyce Rayle greeted voters who passed by her lawn chair with a wave and a message: “It’s a beautiful day to vote.”
Across the United States, millions of Americans headed to the polls today. They showed up because they’re concerned about abortion access. Many are anxious about the state of American democracy. Some worry about voter fraud, though there is no evidence that widespread fraud has affected election results. Others say they are concerned about inflation and the economy or want to see more spending on education.
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Washington Post reporters fanned out around the country, talking to voters as they cast their ballots. Here’s what they told us.
PHOENIX — Matt Kroski doesn’t see his views accurately represented by either major party, and he has supported both in the past. But lately, he said, it’s Republican policies that scare him most — from chipping away at abortion rights to eroding democratic guardrails.
For Kroski, who lives in a neighborhood north of downtown Phoenix, Tuesday was about voting against candidates on the right more than anything else.
“I’m looking for people who are more in tune with the public, and more in tune with what’s right for people, rather than what’s right for their pocketbooks,” he said.
Kroski, 43, usually votes early, but after seeing reports of armed observers at local ballot drop boxes, he decided to cast his ballot in person on Election Day. “It’s just voter intimidation,” he said. “Emotionally, it made me fearful, because it’s our one chance to make our voice heard.”
— Reis Thebault
ADA TOWNSHIP — Kyle LaLone, 32, a Republican and a medical sales representative, voted at a quiet church in an exurb of Grand Rapids on Tuesday morning.
He backed Tudor Dixon, the far-right gubernatorial candidate, because she’s antiabortion — but especially because of his frustrations with covid safety precautions under Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D).
“I’m really for just letting people choose what is best for their own lives. I don’t think big government should come in and tell us when we can’t go to sporting events, go to school, can’t go to your gym,” he said. “So that’s what’s motivated me the biggest to get out and vote.”
— Sam Easter
ELLETTSVILLE — Joyce Rayle, 87, sat in her lawn chair in Ellettsville, Ind., campaigning for her grandson Nathan Williams, who is running for Monroe County sheriff. Rayle greeted every voter, saying “Good afternoon, it’s a beautiful day to vote.”
Rayle became “doubtful” about the integrity of elections after 2020. “I believe Trump was cheated,” she said.
Another issue she’s passionate about: immigration. “I think we should close the border,” she said. “We got homeless people right here in this town, and we’re giving [immigrants] schooling, telephones, flying them places, taking them on buses. We got people right here who need food.”
— Samantha Latson
TUSKEGEE — For Doris McGowan-Coleman, 79, a trip to the Tuskegee Municipal Complex to cast her vote in Tuesday’s midterm elections brought reminders of the years of civil rights history she has lived through.
Her trip to the polls also came on the heels of watching her great-nephew, actor Jalyn Hall, portray Emmett Till in the film “Till.” “We haven’t made the progress that I would like for us to have made since [the death of Emmett Till],” said McGowan-Coleman. “I’m still hopeful.”
She sees voting as one way to move the needle of progress.
“I was always one that felt like my vote mattered and that is what has inspired me all these years to vote,” she said.
McGowan-Coleman supported Democratic congressional candidates this year because of their commitment to education, reproductive rights and their desire to “[save] our democracy.” She also hoped for a smooth Election Day process, acceptance of the voting outcomes and that “everyone plays fair.”
— Gheni Platenburg
NEW ORLEANS — Lines were short at the Blessed Francis Seelos Parish polling location in the colorful Bywater neighborhood Tuesday morning, with just a handful of voters taking turns on the site’s two electronic voting machines.
Cornelius Bentley Sr., 78, rolled up to the polling station on his bicycle, wondering aloud whether he needed a mask to go inside. Bentley, who is retired, said he doesn’t cast his ballot along party lines but rather by his sense of how candidates feel about people.
“Human issues,” he said. “That’s what I vote on.”
Bentley said he has ignored any conversations around voter fraud that have circulated in advance of today’s election. “If we don’t have a system, we’re in trouble,” he said. “I try not to get caught up on that, and I just go ahead and vote. For me, coming from where I’m coming from, the right to vote is what matters.”
— Ashley Cusick
WOODBRIDGE — Niaz Ali, 29, walked out of an elementary school after casting his ballot in deep blue Northern Virginia and stopped to take a selfie.
He wanted to record the day when he switched parties, from Democrat to Republican. Ali, who is from Pakistan, said he has long supported Democrats but has lately been frustrated by inflation and illegal immigration.
“They [messed up] everything,” he said of Democrats. “We need Trump back.”
— Antonio Olivo
BOISE — When Lisa Kerns rolled up the polls in Boise, a pair of silver earnings that read, “VOTE,” caught the early morning sunlight, and a single tear rolled down her cheek.
Kerns, 58, who uses a wheelchair, arrived early in case she needed help getting into the polling location. The insurance claims manager voted at Hawthorne Elementary School and said that over the past 35 years, she has usually needed help getting through the door to cast her vote.
Today was different.
“I pulled up, and I saw this ramp, and I immediately just burst into tears,” she said.
“People always ask me, ‘Well, why don’t you absentee vote? It would be so much easier.’ And I say, ‘I want to make sure that people see me and know that I am here to use my voice,” she said.
The lifelong Democrat said education is the most important issue to her. “They’re so worried about cutting taxes that they don’t put that money toward educating our youth,” she said.
ELGIN — Stacy Goff, an accountant in Elgin, tends to vote Republican. This time, she had a mixed ballot. “I try to pick the people I like the best,” she said.
One of them was Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Morgan Reeves. Abortion rights was a major issue. “I have a young child, and I think that she should have the option, if things happen to her, to make the choices over herself physically,” she said.
— Rodney Welch
CHARLESTON — After making her selections at her local polling place in Charleston, the state’s capital and largest city, Becky Johnson had an experience unlike any other in her nearly 30 years of voting.
Before turning in her ballot, Johnson looked at it closely, but not for an error of her making. The criminal defense attorney, a Republican who describes herself as fiscally conservative, said she was surprised to find she was “checking to make sure that who I voted for was on there.”
“That’s not anything I’d ever thought about before. I never even contemplated looking to see that my answers were recorded correctly,” the 47-year-old said.
“Unfortunately,” she added, “Republicans have planted a seed” of doubt about election results in cities and towns across the country, though she herself has always felt confident in them.
— Molly Born
DES MOINES — Leaving a polling place at a church here, Enisa Kuburas-Kazazic said she voted an all-Democratic ticket to try to preserve reproductive rights.
The 50-year-old said that although she was not directly impacted by the fall of Roe v. Wade, she worried about others who are — especially minorities. “Personally, I would not choose an abortion. But I don’t think anybody else has the right to dictate,” she said, adding that what is right for one person “is not necessarily right for everybody else.”
— Brittany Shammas