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Welcome to a special California primary edition of Essential Politics. We're tracking state politics and happenings in government on our regular Essential Politics news feed.

  • Secretary of State Alex Padilla reported on Friday afternoon that some 2.4 million votes remain uncounted from the statewide primary.
  • A state lawmaker wants to open up California's presidential primaries to all voters.
  • After four years, voters and candidates are still getting used to the state's top-two primary system.
  • Kamala Harris has nabbed first place and Loretta Sanchez second place in California's U.S. Senate primary, according to AP. The two Democrats will face off in a November runoff.

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5 million Californians are expected to vote by mail, a new record for a statewide primary

 (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

As the votes are tallied Tuesday night in California's presidential primary, more of them are likely to have been cast from kitchen tables or couches than a polling place.

The nonpartisan Field Poll estimated that 5 million Californians would vote by mail in this statewide primary. That would set a new record, surpassing the 3.7 million ballots mailed in to elections officials in the 2008 presidential primary.

The all-time record was set in the November 2012 general election, with 6.7 million ballots cast by mail.

The trend has not gone unnoticed by campaign consultants. For more than a decade, they have watched election day in California turn into something more akin to an election week. One likely reason for the shift is the 2002 state law that allows voters to permanently change their status to what used to be called an "absentee voter."

The Field report finds that in 2004, just after the law went into effect, 16% of California voters were permanently registered to vote by mail. Now, it's 53% of all voters -- about 9.2 million Californians in all.

Source: Field Poll Paul Duginski / @latimesgraphics Field Poll results An estimated 8 million voters will participate in today’s California primary. That represents 44.7% of the state’s registered voters and 32.3% of those eligible to vote. 8 million expected to vote Tuesday 5 million by mail 3 million at the polls 17.9 million registered 24.8 million eligible to register and vote 0 5 10 15 20 25

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