Pictured: Jessica Patino exhibits pride as a Mexican American and first time voter while celebrating the projection that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are the 2020 President and Vice President elect. Saturday, Nov. 7. Photo by Kimberly Rivers

by Kimberly Rivers

kimberly@vcreporter.com

At her home in Ventura Mattie Park celebrates projection of a Biden-Harris victory in the 2020 Presidential election on Saturday, Nov. 7. Photo by Barry Harrington.

As of Nov. 9, Ventura County Elections is reporting a total of 364,308 ballots cast by county voters — 72.8 percent of the 500,442 registered voters in the county. In the 2018 statewide election there were 448,174 registered voters with about 70 percent turnout and 313,871 ballots cast. 

While there are still ballots being counted, and ballots postmarked by Nov. 3 can be received up to Nov. 20, many races are being called because it is next to impossible for candidates to reach the top vote getter.

U.S. Presidential Election

Sixty percent of county voters chose the Biden-Harris ticket (216,447) with just under 38 percent (135,555) casting a vote for the Trump-Pence ticket. 6,828 votes were cast for down ticket candidates, including 12 votes for Jesse Ventura, the former governor of Minnesota. 

Andrew Barmann celebrates the projections of a Biden-Harris win in Simi Valley on Saturday, Nov. 7. Photo by Erin Leigh Gorman,

On Saturday morning, Nov. 7, Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris were projected to be the winners, with more than the 270 electoral college votes needed. Election analysts and news organizations vary on the exact number of electoral votes garnered by each ticket so far, with a few states, like Arizona, being considered too close to call by many. As of press time on Nov. 11, Biden leads in Arizona by around 12,000 votes, but counting is still underway. CNN, the New York Times and the Washington Post report that the Biden/Harris ticket has garnered 279 electoral votes while the Associated Press declares 290, as that news organization called Arizona for Biden on Thursday of last week. 

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are projected to have 214 electoral votes so far. So far races not being universally called include Alaska, Arizona, Georgia and North Carolina, which collectively account for a total of 45 electoral votes. Even if Trump won in all four of these states — unlikely, as Biden leads in both Arizona and Georgia — he would not have the 270 needed to be declared president. Nevertheless, Trump has refused to concede.

“I was way less angry, I was happy”

According to Andrew Barmann, 27, of Simi Valley, “Once they called Pennsylvania [ for Biden] in the morning [of Nov. 7], a few of the local activist groups and democratic groups posted online” to direct folks to gather and celebrate. 

Madison Beckman dressed as a handmaid at an event organized by Simi Solidarity on Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020. Photo courtesy of Simi Solidarity.

Barmann’s boyfriend started the Simi Solidarity Facebook page earlier this year “as a hub for other activist groups to put out their information.” It now has about 2,000 followers. The Saturday prior Barmann organized a rally in the wake of Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, viewed by many as a threat to the basic rights of the LGBTQ community and other maringalized groups. 

Barmann was photographed by Erin Gorman, holding a large Pride flag high in the air and wearing a “Joe, Kamala” shirt at the Nov. 7 rally at the corner of Alamo and Tapo Canyon Road in Simi Valley. When the photograph was taken, Barmann said, “We had been there for about two hours or so, I was really excited by the energy. As a gay man in Simi, which is really conservative, I get hate and weird looks all the time. It was good to be surrounded by people who care about me.” 

As it became clear that Biden was going to be elected, Barmann said he felt immense relief. “I was way less angry, I was happy and genuinely smiling.” Saying goodbye to Trump felt “like breaking up with an abusive person, cuz I have been in abusive relationships before and it felt exactly like that.”

Barmann is enthusiastic about continuing to be active in local politics. “There is still a lot of work to do, especially locally. Simi re-elected all the people we have issues with, especially the mayor. We will call them out and make them do better.” 

Judy Nelson (left), Landon Quirk (center) and Trevor Quirk (right) celebrate projections of the Biden-Harris ticket winning the 2020 Presidential Election in Ojai on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020. Photo by Kimberly Rivers

Small crowd celebrates in Ojai

At about 11 a.m. on Nov. 7, a group that grew to about 30 people began to gather at Libbey Park in Ojai. They stood along Ojai Avenue, under the arches, holding Biden-Harris signs and waving American flags. 

Sarah Otterstrom of Ojai said, “It really is a fight for the soul of the country,” echoing recent remarks of Joe Biden.

Chants of “Bye Don” were led by Judy Nelson, president of the Ojai Valley Democratic Club as the group waved and smiled. Most cars driving by honked and waved in support of those lining the street. 

At one point a man on a white scooter drove by, lifting his middle finger to show his disapproval of the Biden supporters, who continued to wave, smile and say “You’re fired” as the scooter motored past. One or two other passersby expressed their support for Trump over Biden, but there were no issues.

Jennifer Patino, 21, of Ojai, arrived, carrying the Mexican flag. “I’m a proud Mexican American,” she said, standing with the crowd. “I’m a first time voter . . . and I know [Biden] will speak not just for me but for everyone.”