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What motivated these Snohomish County residents to vote in-person

A man and a woman each stand at a voting booth in front of a concrete wall that has signs for public meeting rooms.
Parker Miles Blohm
/
KNKX
Snohomish County residents vote in-person in Everett, Washington on Election Day.

Election officials north of Seattle said there may have been a surge of last-minute voting in this election – especially in-person.

At the Snohomish County vote center in Everett on Tuesday, it almost felt like the old days before Washington adopted universal vote-by-mail in 2011.

People were depositing ballots in drop boxes or filling them out in voting booths. A small line formed at times for those who needed to register or update their information.

Most voters who spoke to KNKX said concern for abortion rights was what motivated them to stand in line. Others in line said they were voting to combat extremism and protect voting rights. One man repeated Trump’s MAGA slogan.

Here's what some of those voters had to say.

A ballot cast to honor her mother and African American ancestors

SnohomishElectionDay_PMB_20221108_038.jpg
Parker Miles Blohm
/
KNKX
Donna Kelly.

Donna Kelly, 60, lives in Everett and works in youth substance abuse prevention at Seattle Public Schools. She thought her address on her voter registration would transfer with her car registration, but it didn’t happen – so she headed to the Snohomish County vote center to get it sorted out.

Kelly said it's important to her to vote and that she's motivated by the history of African Americans not being able to participate in politics and the voting process in the past.

"My mother, an activist, fought long and hard for the ability to be able to vote. She walked with a limp most of her life because she was denied access to a hospital," she said.

Kelly explained her mother grew up in Muskogee, Oklahoma where there was a white-only hospital.

"That's my motivating factor. I want to be able to ensure that I carry on what many of our ancestors were unable or denied to do," she said.

Kelly also said she feels that there is a lot at risk in this particular election.

"We want to be able to vote on those issues that are important to us. And so that is why I'm also here as well."

Abortion is a defining difference between the two parties for this voter

A man in a turquoise long sleeve shirt smiles at the camera.
Parker Miles Blohm
/
KNKX
Evan Galt.

Evan Galt, 48, lives in Everett near Mukilteo. His ballot didn’t arrive at his home, he thought it may have been lost in the mail. Still, he felt it was important to come out to vote at the Snohomish County vote center.

“I'm pro women's choice to pick what they want to do with their bodies. And that's why I voted that way," he said.

Galt said that was the major issue for him this election. He also mentioned the economy but doesn't think it's something politicians are going to do anything about. But he does think abortion is an issue they will do something about.

"I tend to not think there's this big a difference in the parties. To me, the left wing in the right wing are the same bird run by the same people. But there are some differences. And so, you know, the abortion one was one for me."

Touting MAGA as his main issue, a Vietnamese-American wants borders closed

Truc Le, 70, retired, lives in South Everett. He said he had many jobs over the years including working at Boeing.

Le didn't receive his ballot in the mail, so he was excited he could still vote at the Snohomish County voting center. Le said wanted to vote to make America better, repeating "MAGA, MAGA!" – the slogan popularized by former President Donald Trump.

"Because I was from Vietnam, I ran away from Communists, with a boat – very dangerous. So I want to have...freedom," Le said.

Le said another issue that brought him out to vote is closing the border. He said immigrants crossing the border are violent, a false association that has been repeatedly debunked while continuing to circulate among President Trump's supporters.

Voting to "dilute the more extreme views"

Christopher Swanson, 29, lives in Mill Creek and works in the pharmaceuticals industry. He voted in-person after his ballot was lost in the mail.

"There's a lot of partisan rhetoric that I think gives extreme views the bigger platform to spread. And most people, whether you're on the right side of the aisle or left side of the aisle, generally don't share the extreme views," he said.

A man wearing a black sweatshirt inserts a ballot into a metal box with a small American flag sitting on top of it.
Bellamy Pailthorp
/
KNKX
A last-minute vote against extremism on either side of the spectrum from Christopher Swanson of Mill Creek, WA. He came to the Snohomish County Vote Center to get a ballot after his was lost in the mail.

"So I just think it's more of a civic duty, even if I know I'm in a blue state and I'm voting more, like, more in a liberal manner. It's kind of an important thing to at least contribute my voice. So there's something to dilute the more extreme views out there."

A new U.S. citizen and the son of immigrants view the midterms with a sense of importance

Among those waiting in line were Mrutunjaya ‘J’ Mishra and his spouse Deebika, who live in Bothell.

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Parker Miles Blohm
/
KNKX
J & Deebika Mishra.

He’s a tech worker for Amazon – and she was getting registered for the first time, because she just got her citizenship last month. J said he used to only vote in presidential years – but now he’s realized the House and Senate really matter too.

"I see the fundamental freedom and rights that my immigrant parents moved here for is being stripped away. And I wanted to make sure I'm here to kind of represent that, that doesn't happen," he said. 

Deebika added that she’s especially worried about the rights that were overturned with Roe V. Wade.

"I really want to change that...I want to fight for the women abortion rights," she said.

Lost ballots, democracy and abortion rights

Rise Gamble from Bothell said her daughter’s ballot apparently got lost in the mail after several moves. So they went to the Snohomish County vote center on Tuesday to get it sorted out. Access to abortion was on Gamble's mind as well.

“As we all know, democracy is on the ballot," Gamble said.

"But I'm also very, very concerned that rights are being stripped away, as opposed to the rights that we've been trying to protect for the last 50 years. And if we're going to talk about abortion, it's not about abortion – the right to family planning is an economic need.”

Jennifer Tui, 21, from Everett, said she was busy with school and she thinks her parents accidentally recycled her ballot which brought her out to vote in-person. But she doesn’t like the direction of politics lately and the anti-abortion focus.

"I want to make sure I get my ballot, my vote count today for sure. I want to make sure I have politicians in the office that I want – that represent and that matches my values," Tui said.

Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment beat for KNKX, where she has worked since 1999. From 2000-2012, she covered the business and labor beat. Bellamy has a deep interest in Indigenous affairs and the Salish Sea. She has a masters in journalism from Columbia University.
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