The almost 57 percent of Henderson County residents who voted in the midterm election should pat themselves on the back for taking the time to help choose leaders from Congress to School Board.

Unofficial results from Tuesday’s election showed a 56.78 percent turnout, with 48,803 of 85,948 eligible voters casting ballots. That far surpasses the total turnout of 46.5 percent in 2014, the last midterm election.

More than half of those who voted locally didn’t wait until Election Day, with about 25,500 voters casting ballots in early voting. That was 50 percent more than the 16,997 early ballots cast locally in 2014.

In an election that saw Democrats regain control of the U.S. House of Representatives and Republicans expand their U.S. Senate majority, Henderson County’s reliably Republican-leaning voters helped GOP politicians hold onto local, state and federal offices.

In the 11th Congressional District, conservative stalwart U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows took more than 59 percent of the vote against Democrat Phillip Price, who got almost 39 percent, and Libertarian candidate Clifton B. Ingram Jr., who got 2 percent. Meadows’ victory was all but a foregone conclusion in a district gerrymandered to ensure Republican control.

Also no big surprise were the victories of incumbent Republican legislators, N.C. Reps. Chuck McGrady and Cody Henson and N.C. Sen. Chuck Edwards. Seeking his fifth term, McGrady had the strongest showing with 60.1 percent to 39.9 percent for Gayle Kemp, his Democratic opponent, for House District 117.

In House District 113, first-term incumbent Henson defeated Democratic challenger Sam Edney with 57.58 percent to Edney’s 42.42 percent. In Senate District 48, Edwards fended off a somewhat more vigorous challenge, winning 55.62 percent to Democrat Norm Bossert’s 44.38 percent.

While Henderson County voters favored Republican judges in four statewide races, Democrats apparently won all those contests, topped by Anita Earls, who won a seat on the state Supreme Court in a three-way race.

For School Board, voters chose incumbent chairwoman Amy Lynn Holt and newcomers Jay Egolf and Dot Case among six candidates running for three seats. Holt was the top vote-getter with 24,603 votes, or 22.58 percent, followed by Egolf with 22,700 votes (20.8 percent) and Dot Case with 20,863 (19.15 percent) in unofficial tallies.

They will join four board members whose seats were not up for election this year to guide plans for a new and renovated Hendersonville High School and continued safety improvements in all schools next year.

Statewide, voters showed their independence by rejecting calls by Democrats to nix all six constitutional amendments on the ballot — and by rejecting Republican calls to approve all six. Instead they split, approving four and rejecting two.

Despite the high turnout locally, about 43 percent of eligible voters — more than 37,000 Henderson County residents — did not take the time to vote. That’s a huge number of people that could shape the outcome of races in the 2020 election, if only those folks would take the time to exercise the right the rest of us hold so dear.