BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — As the nation prepares to head into its first midterm election since 2020, questions and concerns about our elections remain front-and-center around the country and right here in Kern County.
“It’s a fundamental block to our democracy. People have to have faith in voting for our system to work. And if they don’t have faith, they’re not going to vote,” Representative David Valadao (R-Hanford) said.
Those concerns brought the House GOP’s Faith in Elections Project to Bakersfield on Tuesday, where Valadao and the head of the project Representative Rodney Davis (R-Illinois), appointed to the position by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield), in a roundtable with three Central Valley district attorneys and local election officials.
“It was Congressman Valadao who said, come to Bakersfield, talk to our election administrators, see what they’re doing right,” Davis said. “And make sure that we can come together and ensure that we have faith in our elections throughout this country starting right here in Kern County.”
The project, started in May 2021, seeks to improve voter confidence in our elections while countering what Rodney calls Democrats’ attempts to nuclearize our system.
“Ensure that our election administrators have the resources they need, that they also have the backup they need to understand that the federal government is going to not overstep and tell each administrator what they should and shouldn’t do in their local elections,” Davis said.
Two examples of that, the group argues, are Democrats’ efforts to expand same-day voter registration and mail-in-voting. Both policies are already in place in California.
“I think that we’ve got to change them, because they are two systems that are easily corruptible,” Valadao said.
In a statement to 17 News, Valadao’s Democratic opponent in November, Rudy Salas, said voters should have the convenience to vote in their own homes and the ballot counting process takes some time in the state because of the care election officials take to make sure each vote is properly counted.
“Allowing people to register same-day recognizes that many people work two jobs or start work before the sun rises and head home after it has set,” Salas said in his statement.
Valadao and Davis emphasized the Republican election integrity bill American Confidence In Elections Act, which they say works to ensure state and local election officials have what they need to carry out election integrity measures. The bill would also allow Congress to implement measures in D.C. such as requiring a photo ID to vote. The group argues the act would also protect free speech, such as preventing the creation of a “Misinformation Czar.”
Former President Donald Trump and some Republicans have continued to claim the 2020 election was illegitimate. While Valadao and Davis point out that some Democrats have objected to electoral votes for Republican Presidents in the past, making sure an event like January 6 doesn’t happen again is part of the mission as well.
“And another part of my job in Washington, is to make sure that our security apparatus is never put in that position,” Davis said.
Kern County Assistant Auditor-Controller-County Clerk-Registrar of Voters Aimee Espinoza who is set to take over the department next year attended the roundtable and said the group “shared stories, ideas, and insights on how to strengthen voter confidence in the election process, which should be a goal at every level of government.”