Zeno Ponder led the way in transforming Madison into a Democratic County. Prior to Ponder's influence, Madison County, as much of western North Carolina, heavily supported the Republican Party. Ponder, who grew up in a Republican household, began to change his political ideals while at N.C. State University and later working with the Manhattan Project during World War II. He became chairman of Madison County's board of elections in 1954. His role in transforming the county to vote Democratic has often been criticized, but Ponder denies ever using illegal means in garnering votes. While he served on the board of elections, Ponder was threatened, bombed, and hauled into court countless times. He has remained in Madison County, although his political role has diminished as Macon County is now strongly Democratic.