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Moving toward record turnout, 11.2 million Californians have already voted

Virginia Garibay puts a ballot into the Huntington Park Library drop box on Thursday.
(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

More than half of California’s registered voters have already cast their ballot on the eve of election day, according to an established vote-tracking company.

Of the 22 million registered voters this year, 11.2 million — or 51% — had returned their ballots as of 8 a.m. Monday morning, Political Data Inc. reported. The firm, a trusted data source, is a bipartisan voter data company based in California that tracks detailed voter information.

“It’s undeniable, absolutely factual, 100% we’re going to set a record in the total number of votes cast in an election in California,” said Paul Mitchell, vice president of Political Data.

California is already well on its way to beating the turnout of the 2016 election — the state has cast 76.9% of the 14.6 million total votes counted four years ago, according to the U.S. Elections Project and California Secretary of State Alex Padilla. Nationwide, 96.2 million voters have cast their ballots, 69.8% of the total turnout in 2016.

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“I think we’re going to blast right past that total number of votes cast,” Mitchell said.

Early voting is already breaking records the day before election day. About 8.4 million mail-in ballots were cast in 2016, according to the secretary of state. Mitchell predicted that California would notch more than 12 million votes by the end of Monday.

He expected two major demographics from both parties to turn out for in-person voting Tuesday in California: young people and Latinos on one side, and Republicans on the other. Based on polling and survey research, Mitchell said Latinos tend to trust in-person voting more, and he expects a surge of first-time voters doing same-day registration on election day. On the flip side, he said, polling showed many Republicans prefer to vote in person on election day.

“It’s going to be a weird mix,” he said. “You’re going to have some of the most young, progressive people of color and then a bunch of suburban, white, older Republicans.”

Unlike in previous elections, Democrats are turning out early in larger numbers, with 57% of ballots from Democrats returned in California, according to Political Data. Almost 2.7 million Republicans have returned their ballots, 50% of the party’s registered voters in California. For independent or other party voters, the number is 2.7 million, or 42%.

White and Asian people are driving mail-in ballots, with 56% returned for each demographic, Political Data reported. The number is lower among Black voters, 45% of whom have returned their ballots, and Latino voters, at 39%.

Most California voters 65 and older — 3.5 million, or 70% — have already voted. That may be because that demographic is especially vulnerable to the coronavirus and may be concerned about contracting the disease. The number of early voters trends down with age, with only 36% of voters 18 to 34 having cast their ballots already, according to Political Data.

The California secretary of state’s office reported Sunday afternoon that 10.6 million mail-in ballots had already been cast. Almost 100% of mail-in ballots have been accepted, according to the latest state report Friday.

Los Angeles County mirrors the statewide numbers, with 50.8% turnout, or 2.9 million ballots cast, the Los Angeles County registrar-recorder/county clerk tweeted Sunday evening. The vast majority of those — 2.5 million — were mail-in ballots. In a sweeping change to its voting system this year, California mailed ballots to all registered voters amid concerns of spreading the coronavirus during in-person voting.

Still, 391,399 Los Angeles County voters have cast their ballots in person at one of the nearly 800 early vote centers in the county, according to officials.

As of Monday morning, Ventura County had the highest percentage of returned ballots in the Greater Los Angeles area, at 58%, according to Political Data. The next-highest rate was 56% in Orange County. Riverside County was reporting 46% turnout, and San Bernardino was at 41%.

This year has already shattered voting records in California. More than two weeks ago, the state logged 1 million votes, dwarfing the 72,000 votes cast at the same time in 2016, according to the secretary of state‘s office.

The state also broke records for its number of registered voters. California now reports 22 million registered voters, the highest percentage of eligible people registered in a general election in the last 80 years, according to the secretary of state. That number is about 2.6 million higher than four years ago.

“There are more voters registered in California than the number of people in the state of Florida!” Padilla said in a written statement Saturday.

Times staff writer Matt Stiles contributed to this report.


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