Before Election Day, votes come in

Illustration of a California voter casting a ballot. (Photo: Vepar5, via Shutterstock)

Before Election Day, fewer than one in every five California voters have cast their ballots.

About 11.8 primary election million ballots were mailed during the past month — 5.3 million to Democrats and about 3.1 million to Republicans, according to figures compiled by Political Data, a firm that markets campaign information. Click here to see details.

Nearly 2.7 million voters who declined to state a political affiliation — the No Party Preference, or NPP, voters — also received ballots, as did about 600,000 minor-party voters.

As of Friday, June 1, about 2.13 million had been returned, for a turnout rate of about 18 percent. Nearly 961,000 came from Democrats, about 718,000 from Republicans and 372,000 from NPP voters. The remainder, about 4%, came from minor-party voters.

In Los Angeles County, which has about 5.1 million registered voters, voters sent in about 290,000 ballots. Further south, San Diego County — where the voter registration totals about 1.76 million — early voters cast nearly as many ballots as L.A,  about 276,000.

Regionally, voters in the San Francisco Bay Area counties have sent in about 25 percent of the ballots they received. In L.A. County, that number is about 14 percent.

The figures suggest that Los Angeles County is going to have a low-turnout primary election — again.

Political observers project the primary election turnout to be about 30% to 34% statewide, which would fall short or match the record low turnout of 34% for a primary election in 2006.

The highest turnout for a California primary was 69 percent in June 1978, when the tax-cutting Proposition 13 was on the ballot, along with Gov. Jerry Brown, who faced a half-dozen largely unknown Democrats as he coasted toward a second term.

The increasing use of mail-in ballots reflects a decades-long trend.

Several counties have mail-in only; Plumas, Alpine and Sierra counties have relied on the mailbox for years.  Voters in five other counties — Sacramento, Napa, Nevada, Madera and San Mateo — got their official ballot in the mail for the first time, which they can mail back or drop off at voting centers.


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