Regina Steadley sat on a bench outside the CATEC voting precinct mid-afternoon Tuesday with her daughter Tiffany. Both had just voted, and they were not shy about sharing how they voted, and why.
"I’m a Democrat, and I don’t want the Republicans in office," said Regina Steadley. And while the right for a woman to choose whether to have an abortion was top of mind for many local voters, Steadley and her daughter were thinking of other policy issues.
"Abortion doesn’t affect me, but Medicare, Social Security and all that stuff does," said Regina Steadley.
"Same reasons," said Tiffany Steadley, pointing to her mother. "They gotta take care of her."
Ralph Taylor, who voted at the Tonsler precinct in Fifeville, said he wasn’t driven by any particular issue but by civic duty.
"If you don’t vote, you can’t complain," Taylor said.
All voters interviewed throughout the day said the process of voting in the midterm election, which included only one race for local voters, was quick. No one reported intimidation.
"It was super easy," said Doug Lawson, who said the main issue for him was "humanity."
"I’ve got three kids, and I got them to vote," he said of his young adult children.
Kelcey Richardson said she voted because she felt like her voice needs to be heard. She voted for Josh Throneburg, she said, and feels hopeful that a large turnout could tip the outcome in his favor.
Daniel Martin said he voted Throneburg because "I don’t see much from Republicans."
"If there were more Democrats on the ballot, I would have voted for them," he said.
Forrest Swope said he voted "to preserve democracy."
Despite the rancor that prevails in today’s politics, Swope said he still has hope that the country can return to saner times.
"If I didn’t have hope, I wouldn’t be here," he said.
Earlier in the day, many voters said abortion was at the top of mind.
“I went through Roe versus Wade back in the 70s, and I’ve never been a fan of abortion, but until we have a better option, I think it should be an individual choice,” said Marilyn Finley outside the Hillsdale Conference Center. Finley described herself as an independent voter: someone who votes for a person and not a party. She said she had voted in every election since she was eligible to cast a ballot.
Abortion is not on the ballot in Virginia, though it is in states like California and Michigan. Current law allows a person to terminate a pregnancy through the second trimester, and in some cases the third.
However, some 5th District voters fear the future of abortion access in the state, especially as Republican Rep. Bob Good supports an abortion ban. His Democratic opponent, Josh Throneburg, describes himself as pro-choice and wants to codify Roe v. Wade into law.
“Abortion access was big for me,” said Jessica Shippen about her decision to vote.
Abortion, housing and climate change pushed Abigail Barber to the polls this election cycle. Barber said she usually votes in midterm elections.
Barber said she was also concerned about access to affordable housing, something other voters echoed.
“Nobody thinks about it, but you’re gonna have no place for people to go in this system,” said Michael Jackson, who also said he is passionate about health care access for the elderly and disabled, too.
Daniel Perry and his wife, Rachel Perry, brought their two children with them when Rachel voted—Daniel had already voted early.
“Since 2008, voting has seemed a lot more important, and seemed like we were accomplishing something by voting,” Daniel Perry said.
“Family-wise, nobody would forgive us if we skipped voting,” Rachel Perry added.
Daniel Perry expressed frustration at the current political environment.
“All of this, let’s go back to when some people had all the power and everybody else kept their mouths closed, it’s terrifying,” he said. “That’s why we gotta vote all these crazies, including Bob Good and whoever else, out.”
Finley, the independent voter, hopes the election will result in a more stable atmosphere.
“I’m looking for a voice of reason.”
Lynne Anderson contributed to this report.