California voter turnout sets recent record for a midterm
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Preliminary projections Friday show nearly two-thirds of California registered voters cast ballots in last week’s election, a recent record for a non-presidential general election.
County officials estimate that about 12.8 million ballots were cast by the record 19.7 million Californians who registered to vote.
That puts turnout at nearly 65 percent. It’s the highest for any gubernatorial election in California since at least 2006. It’s much higher than the last midterm election in 2014, when turnout was a record low 42 percent.
Turnout was about 60 percent in 2010 and 56 percent in 2006 during other gubernatorial election years. It topped 75 percent during the presidential election two years ago, and 72 percent in 2012. The recent record was nearly 80 percent in 2008.
The California secretary of state reported Friday that more than 10 million ballots have been tallied so far. County officials estimated nearly 2.7 million remained uncounted.
Winners in some close races might not be determined for weeks. California has a high percentage of mail voters, which slows counting because officials take additional steps to verify and process mail ballots.
Same-day registration will likely also slow results in California. Ballots from Californians who registered conditionally Election Day or in the days leading up to it take longer to count because officials must first verify those voters’ eligibility.
Turnout was high throughout the country. An analysis of preliminary data compiled by The Associated Press estimates that this midterm saw the highest raw vote total for a non-presidential election in U.S. history and the highest overall voter participation rate in a midterm election in 50 years.
Nearly four in five eligible Californians were registered to vote heading into the election, the largest share of the eligible population heading into a gubernatorial election in almost 70 years, according to the secretary of state’s office.
But among that group, there were significant disparities, said Mindy Romero, director of the California Civic Engagement Project at the University of Southern California. Young people, Latinos and Asians were registered at a lower rate than older, white voters, she said.
Early voters tend to skew older, conservative and white, so turnout for younger, liberal and nonwhite voters could increase as results trickle in.
Final turnout numbers won’t be available until election results are certified next month.