Women at the polls: Reflecting on past elections and discussing the 2020 candidates

Melanie Romo, Assistant Features Editor

A hundred years ago, the image of women hovering over a ballot bubbling in her decision to share her voice with ink was taboo. No one could have imagined a gathering of women exercising their 19th amendment right, the right to vote. Women actively participating in the political world previously dominated by men was simply inacceptable. 

According to the Center for American Women in Politics (CAWP), since 1964, female voters have outnumbered men voters in every presidential election.  

Moreover, “Women outvoted men (in terms of both turnout rates and actual numbers) in every racial and ethnic group-African American, Latino, Asian/Pacific Islander, and white,” according to CAWP.  

The upcoming November 3 election will mark history as it finds itself in the middle of a global pandemic and in the middle of social justice issues such as Black Lives Matter movement. Also, it marks the first time a woman of color has ever been nominated for the role of Vice President. Women’s voice will play a major role in the election. 

Gitika Commuri, associate professor of political science at CSU Bakersfield, teaches a course discussing women in politics 

“I think one of the big surprises in conversations we talk about is why the United States has not had a female head of state. That puzzles the students a lot, and it bothers them a lot,” said Commuri. 

She pointed out the increase of women voters, specifically in Black women. This group of women’s engagement in politics grew and continues to grow at impressive rates, according to Commuri. 

Commuri speculates that one possible explanation for the gender gap in politics is that there are differences between men and women, not only in population but mentally.  

“There is also literature that shows women are more cooperative than men- in terms of their ability to deal with other members of the legislature… that they can come together, and they can make things work, and they have a consensual style of functioning,” Commuri said. 

Certain topics of importance to women are similar. According to Commuri, these topics include social welfare, health, and education. Whether they are Republican or Democrat doesn’t matter, the commonality in topics of interest still exists.  

Though there are differing feminist theories that show that not all women think the same way.  

“There is no agreement, which is nice because then you are forced to not accept an easy way,” Commuri said. 

She explained that in mainstream feminist theories, there are multiple theories and viewpoints regarding why this is. 

“Because it’s such a masculine dominated field, the feminist theory argues why women joining in this very masculinist public sphere, women are masculinizing themselves,” she said. 

Another theory argues that women are necessary because in some societies across the world there are more women than men, according to Commuri. 

“The United States is behind. There are third world countries that have powerful women in office from Liberia, to Sri Lanka, to India, to Bangladesh, to Pakistan. Women in other parts of the world have beaten the United States to it… In that sense we are behind, we need to catch up,” Commuri said. 

When asked how she feels about the current political climate of the 2020 election, she took a few seconds to gather her thoughts and expressed the difficulty in putting words to describe it.  

Commuri used the words “scary” and “dangerous” to explain the political environment she said President Donald Trump created with his failure to condemn white supremacists, among other instances.  

“Certainly, in the last 25 odd years since I have been in the United States, and I would argue nothing like this has happened from the second world war onwards,” she said.  

In response to if she will vote in this election Commuri said, “I just became a US citizen, so this is my first vote. So, I am damn well going to vote.” 

Jaycee Sharp is a junior studying biology and is part of the CSUB College Republican club.  

She wrote in an email to The Runner on the political topics that are of importance to her. Some include public safety, healthcare, and racism in the United States. 

“I would like to remain in charge of my body, and do not think that the government should have an extensive say in anybody’s healthcare or vaccinations! The phrase ‘my body, my choice,’ should be valid for every aspect of healthcare,” Sharp wrote. 

On the topic of racism, she wrote, “Joe Biden refused to condemn the violent protests that erupted as a result of George Floyd’s death but failed to condemn the police during the first presidential debate, and that to me, is a red flag that he is unable to choose a stance on an issue.” 

The duality of an issue and the work it takes to understand contrasting perspectives is important and necessary to be able to vote, according to Sharp.

“Watch both CNN and Fox News, do a quick google search, have friends with different political opinions as yourself!” Sharp wrote. 

Sharp will be voting in this election, and she will be voting for Donald Trump.  

“By voting for Trump, I am voting for a better quality of life for everyone. I am voting for hard work and prosperity, not handouts and freebies. I am voting for the wellbeing of my family and my future children. I am voting for a strong economy and lower taxes. I am voting for the right to choose what chemicals I put into my body, and the right to be in charge of my health and well-being. I am voting for the voices of everyone to be heard!” Sharp wrote. 

Robin Walters, President of the Democratic Women of Kern (DWK) and CSUB alumni, is 61 years old and considers herself politically active. 

“Really I became super active at the end in 2016 like so many when I saw the election of someone that I thought was antithetical to everything I value in this country. I mean truly antithetical, and in my view morally bankrupt. So, to that extent I don’t feel at all with the current government represents me or anyone like me or anybody that cares about human beings,” Walters said. 

Walters said she is involved because she wants to set a good example for her daughter.  

Walters has never missed an opportunity to vote. 

“One [candidate] is qualified, and one is not. One is moral, and one is not. One cares about human beings, one does not-well cares about one, only himself… One has pets. One doesn’t. For me, those speak through the character of the men that are running, and that character follows through into their policies,” Walters said.  

To Walters, it is a choice between good and evil. 

“This time this is different, different than any election I’ve ever, ever seen in my lifetime,” Walters said. 

Walters says she will be dropping off her ballot tomorrow.   

“I just hope you young people vote… This your world and you need to help save it, and unless you vote, you’re not going to have a say,” Walters said.