By Janell Gore, South Kern Sol
Former Vice President Joe Biden was declared President elect Saturday morning by multiple media outlets. It was no surprise Biden won the electoral college votes from the State of California, as it has been a blue state for quite some time; however, Kern County is known for being a predominately red county. That’s why it was shocking to see 48.26 percent of the ballots cast in Kern County were for Joe Biden. This is just over 1 percent less than the ballots President Donal Trump received from Kern County Voters.
Kern Sol News checked in with Cal State Bakersfield Political Science Professor Ivy Cargile to hear her thoughts on these results.
“I’m hoping people are learning that you know, when people show up to vote, It’s gonna take a long time,” she told Kern Sol News. “It should take a long time. The fact that we got used to this idea of knowing who the winner was on Election Day, that’s not a good thing…because that just goes to show that people didn’t show up.”
Cargile said in regards to the 2020 Presidential election, “We can actually say a large portion of the American population showed up to the polls. They did their civic duty. That’s a good thing. That’s why we are a republican democracy.”
This interview has been edited and cut cor length and clarity.
Q: According to the unofficial results released by the Kern County Elections Office, President Trump won Kern County only by 1.37 percent. Do you think the political demographics are changing in Kern County?
A: I guess it depends on how we are determining a changing political demographic. I think that the voters have always been there. I just don’t think that they have been mobilized. We have to give lots of credence to local organizations like the Dolores Huerta Foundation as well as Faith in the Valley and other organizations that were really out there on the ground, really getting people plugged in and holding webinars and really doing what they could to educate the average voter. I think that really is important because it allowed people to think through the political process. I think that the voters have always been there; they just haven’t been mobilized before, there hasn’t been enough outreach and education. I think this time around because of what happened in 2016 people realized, shoot we got to tap into the voters that are there that didn’t show up. So I guess, yeah, to some degree there is a change, but I think what is leading the change is the fact that there is outreach that is being done and voters are being mobilized and explained why their vote matters and how it matters and what are different things that could happen if they didn’t show up to participate.
Q:How do you think this election will affect the social climate of Kern?
A: I want to say that eventually things will die down or the high emotions that everyone is experiencing will die down, and at some point, we’ll get back to some sort of normalcy in regards to just chillin out. The division we see right now is, I think more entrenched, it’s deeper than what we say in 2004 and the racist undertones were not there the way that they are this sime. The sexist undertones were not there. However you know in terms of recent history, that’s one example that can be used in regards to thinking about what might happen. You know things people chilled out. I want to say that that’s part of what will happen this time again with the exception that we do have the pandemic still going on. I just hope that local Republicans, particularly starting with Kevin McCarthy really do what has always been done in terms of the side that lost right, just this is the way elections work. You know, let’s move on. Let’s get back to governing. Let’s deal with the pandemic because small businesses still need help. People have lost their jobs. Those that are unemployed still need help. Cities need help. So I’m hoping things will go back to some sense of normalcy, but I really don’t know.
Q: Joe Biden beat the record for the highest popular vote and there is a Washington Post article about the 2020 voter turnout being on pace to break century-old records. What about this election made so many people get out and vote?
A: I think it’s everything that has happened in 2020 right? Starting with the pandemic and then the civil unrest you know, the police murders of black people and people of color. I think all of that has really gotten people to the polls. The nomination and the confirmation of Amy Coney Barett to the Supreme Court also mobilized people. The night that her nomination was announced the Democrats’ fundraised a record-breaking millions of dollars because women were pissed. I think that the economy is in shambles and all of the blatant evidence of systemic racism that we saw this summer and that we continue to see right despite all the protests, despite everything. But, I think it also mobilized people on the other side to say this is why we all need to show up. That side is pissed, and they’re going to work to make sure that Trump doesn’t get re-elected. That’s why we got to show up to make sure that does right.
Q: This year, the Kern County Elections Office said they received more mail in ballots earlier than in past elections. Do you think this is mainly because of the pandemic or other factors?
A: I think that if California allows for early voting to happen again, I think people will do it again. I think that this year it was because of the pandemic. But, for the early voting, what I think drove that was not wanting to be caught up on Election Day in a 10-hour line because so many people showed up, and because of the pandemic, you can only accept so many people and people have to socially distance. So I think that people were trying to avoid the crowds right on Election Day. I think also people decided to go early because they were able to carve out time in their schedules..
Q: While voter turnout has been breaking records this year, even with young voters there is still some mistrust with Voting and people saying their vote doesn’t count or matter. what you would say to them?
A: I would say if it didn’t count, if it didn’t matter, we wouldn’t be seeing everything that we’re seeing right now. Every vote does in fact count. Look how close some races are going to be. Think about the California 21st, the race between David Valadao and TJ Cox. In 2018 when David Valadao lost, he lost by 856 votes. That’s nothing in comparison to the amount of people that live in the California 21st. In that election, every vote did count. So I think when margins are that small, I think that is evidence that every vote does count.
Q: The electoral college is becoming more of a debated topic amongst people because of this. What is your take on the election process.
A: I think the Electoral College is an Antiquated system. I don’t think the framers could foresee the amount of money that goes into elections in the way that they do so I would say that there needs to be a change. I think we need to have some sort of buffer to make sure that things don’t go off the rails. So I have to say I’m not an elections specialist right? But from what I can see from my vantage point as an expert on political behavior and not necessarily elections. I would say that the popular vote needs to be the more important that needs to be what we look at but there also needs to be some sort of safeguard.
Q: President Trump is calling for lawsuits and claiming fraud. These claims could very well shake the already low trust people have with the election process. What would you say to these people to encourage trust in democracy?
I would say do your research right. What is it about the act of the results that you think are false and are lies. Once you figure that out, then do some reading. If possible, get out of your bubble of where you’re getting information from and maybe consider seeking information from sources that have expertise in them. See if you can talk to people or get information from people who study this who are experts in how American democracy functions. I would highly recommend for people who are believing the lies that if you can take a step back, and I know it’s hard because this is emotional, but if you could take a step back and do some googling, do some research don’t give into conspiracy theories.