The Central Valley has long been a stronghold of red California. And on Tuesday there were loud voices in support of the dismissal, while some poll workers grappled with ridicule at unsubstantiated Conservative claims of election fraud.
The Fig Garden Loop neighborhood in Fresno is known for large houses and gardens full of fruit trees. Old money. Old farmers and ranchers. The polling station was in a store called Elite Venues.
After her shift, polling officer Rebekah Doughty said her lip hurt from biting on it so hard that nearly half of the voters who walked in fell in love for a fight.
“You came in to rush: ‘How many dead are voting here?'”
“You questioned the pens. They said the machines couldn’t read our kind of pens. “
“They pointed to the Dominion machines and said they were the center of the fraud.”
Workers were trained to respond that there were several steps to ensure the safety of the votes, and they were welcome to come into the counting facility and watch.
Doughty worked on the primaries and general election, but said these were by far the most strained and problematic. She was glad she did.
“This will give me the creeps when I have to explain,” she said. “But I believe in the right to vote. I believe it should be accessible. If we lose the sanctity and trust of our democracy – that is, vote – then we are not a state for or by the people. “
Doughty returned to Fresno from the Bay Area four years ago worried about California. “We used to have the ability to dialogue. I had Republican friends and we got into loving discussions with both sides willing to listen.
“In the last few years nobody wanted to listen. It’s all ‘the system is rigged’. They don’t trust the system, but they participate anyway, ”she said.
She thinks the recall election is frivolous and a waste. “We don’t have to spend money on re-election not a year after an election when there are so many other things: schools, hospitals, healthcare, social justice and, yes, potholes! I had to fix my car several times, ”said Doughty.
Jeff Kindler, a self-proclaimed worker and business owner, drove to his polling station in Fresno in a white work car for his window repair company.
He wanted to cast his vote to call Governor Gavin Newsom back personally.
“I sure don’t like the mail-in voting thing. I’ve done it personally all my life, ”he said, adding that voting is“ one of the most important things an American can do ”.
Kindler laughed at election officials asking him to lick the envelope to seal his ballot.
“I’m not the smartest guy, but are you worried about COVID and have people licking envelopes?”
He said the recall election was a waste of money, and he blamed Newsom’s decision to have dinner at an upscale restaurant in the heart of the Napa Valley wine country when the pandemic raged late last year.
“If he hadn’t gone to the French laundry, it wouldn’t have happened. People saw that and were angry. Here he dropped $ 15,000 on a 50-year-old’s birthday party and in the meantime, I couldn’t go to my friend’s funeral, ”he said.
Kindler is not excited about the candidates who will replace Newsom. He just wants “someone to do better,” he said.
In Bakersfield, Elsy Ruiz is looking for change.
“Homelessness. Crime. I just don’t feel safe anymore,” said Ruiz, 46, of Bakersfield. “Gas usage is just that high. It has become a choice between a gallon of milk or gasoline.”
Ruiz has lived in Bakersfield since 1992 and said she saw on TV how things have changed in the state for the worse. She wouldn’t even consider visiting Los Angeles anymore – a developing nation would be better off, she said.
The turning point was how Governor Gavin Newsom dealt with the pandemic. He has ordered bans and closed shops, she said.
“That was the icing on the cake,” she said.
It got so bad that she visited Texas and Arizona that summer to see where she could move with her husband after her 16-year-old turned 18. On election day at Bakersfield College’s Norman Levan Center, Ruiz voted for the retrieve. She believes GOP nominee and talk show host Larry Elder would help steer the Golden State in a better direction.
“Elder has a different perspective,” she said. “Let’s try something new.”
Marcum reported from Fresno; Vega from Bakersfield.