California

More Mail-In Ballots, More Early Voting in State, Bay Area

Americans are voting early and often ahead of the midterm elections, with about 25 million votes already cast, and the trend is gaining traction in California.

About 13 million people in the state have received a mail-in ballot, up from 9 million for the last midterm elections in 2014. Nearly 3 million of those ballots already have been sent in, providing data such as party affiliation, age and background of all those voters ahead of Election Day next Tuesday.

Bipartisan tracker Political Data Inc. is flush with the details: more than 1 million Californians (43 percent) have cast ballots as registered Democrats in the congressional races; 850,000 (33 percent) registered Republicans have voted for Congress; nearly 50 percent of the voters thus far are 65 and older; and nearly 75 percent are white.

But Paul Mitchell, vice president of Political Data, says a more diverse mix of voters are increasingly registering online and voting early.

"The people who deal with the mail most regularly, the people who know where they keep their stamps, that are going to be right on top of mailing those ballots back in are these older, more conservative voters," Mitchell said. "If we start to see an uptick in young people turning out, if we start to see an uptick in Latinos and Democratic Voters participating, that would be kind of the early signs of a blue wave."

In the basement of San Francisco City Hall, Director of Elections John Artnz says early activity has picked up in the City by the Bay too, boosted by California encouraging more mail-in ballots but also a governor’s race with no incumbent.

Arntz said 16 percent is a good number at this point in the early voting cycle.

"Whenever the primary contest, let’s say, for an election there’s no incumbent, turnouts tend to be higher for those elections," he said.

In San Francisco, Artnz says, the greatest number of ballots still come in on Election Day.

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