As the final weekend before Election Day approaches, approximately 40 percent of California’s electorate, or 8.5 million voters, have already cast their ballots—about double the number a week ago. As more in-person polling places open, experts say the state is on track to have more votes cast than ever before.
One reason is that the state has seen a large increase in voter registration from the 2016 election. California has over 21 million registered voters, according to the Secretary of State’s 60-day election report, compared to just over 18 million people four years ago.
But even adjusting for the increase in registered voters, this election is seeing a surge in voting over 2016. “We’re going to shatter the total vote record – period,” said Paul Mitchell, Vice President of Political Data, Inc.
Of the 8.5 million ballots returned so far, 4.6 million (54 percent) have been from Democrats, 1.9 million (22 percent) from Republicans, and 2 million (24 percent) from Independents and third party voters.
It’s important to note that the statistics on ballot returns are based on voter registration alone, and don’t actually signify how the vote itself is trending. Election results likely won’t be known until days or weeks after election night, according to the Secretary of State’s office.
In addition to a strong partisan split of early vote totals, counties across the state are seeing large differences in voter turnout. Some counties, particularly in rural areas, are seeing comparatively low turnout, like Trinity (15 return) and Imperial (21 percent). Others, like Plumas (64 percent) and Marin (61 percent), are seeing particularly high turnout.
The age of voters accounts for another disparity. Voters between 18 and 34 currently have the lowest turnout rate (26 percent), while voters 65 and over have the highest (58 percent).
As of Oct. 28, less than 1 percent of ballots had been rejected by county officials.
Polling places across the state will remain open over the weekend. At this point, officials say, don’t mail your ballot. With only five days to go, voters should visit a drop box or vote in person.
Zachary Fletcher is a reporter at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism.
This coverage is made possible through Votebeat, a nonpartisan reporting project covering local election integrity and voting access. In California, CalMatters is hosting the collaboration with the Fresno Bee, the Long Beach Post and the UC Graduate School of Journalism.