California is still waiting for some election results. Follow the journey of a mail ballot, and you get a look at what voters really want.
A ballot sits on a table in the Democratic Party headquarters in Oakland. It’s an early effort at the party to track early voters and see who they are, what they’re voting for, how often they’re turning up and what they’re like.
“How is this any different than when you find a ballot inside a mailbox?” says Laura Nelson, executive director of Elections USA, a group that monitors and conducts research on elections in the United States. “That’s an early indication to me of how the process is going,” says Nelson.
The result of the early voting is an important gauge of a presidential election. This year that result is still in question and won’t be known for hours yet, but Tuesday’s vote is important.
Many in California expect Donald Trump to win, and the state’s early voting numbers suggest this may be a key factor in that prediction.
“It’s still pretty much a dead heat,” says Chris Newman, head of the California Secretary of State’s office.
A lot of people voted early, he says. And California is known for its robust early voting.
Nelson sees the polls as an indicator of who’s turning out late, and they are looking for signs of enthusiasm. “We have seen in the last few days early voting numbers that are not quite as high as usual,” she says.
The early vote was over 600,000 ballots by mid-afternoon, according to her latest numbers, and it’s a big improvement over the turnout in the last presidential election, when nearly 1 million ballots were cast.
Trump’s vote total in California is a mystery still. By his standards, the Republican Party is doing very well: About 6.3 million voters have been registered, a record for a presidential election. As of Tuesday, Trump was ahead of all but four states in the Electoral College, with about 1.17 million votes.
In the other four states where the Republican Party has to overcome its own state’s early voting rules, Obama won all four: Hawaii