How Many SoCal Voters Will Turn Out In 2020?

By Aaron Mendelson,
October 30, 2020


In Los Angeles, election officials have already received 2.1 million ballots. In Orange County, the figure is nearing 750,000. And across the United States, more than 80 million ballots have been cast. 

Do the sky-high early voting numbers mean we'll see record turnout in 2020?

They're certainly a good sign, experts say. But thanks to California's voter-friendly laws, it takes weeks to tally every ballot, and that means we may not know the precise turnout figures until after Thanksgiving.

Millions of ballots have already arrived at counting centers, but election officials still have to process them. That involves checking signatures, tallying write-in votes and inspecting damaged ballots.

Other votes will arrive on election night. In Los Angeles, some are transported to counting centers by sheriff's deputies in helicopters and on boats.

And other ballots won't arrive until days, or even weeks, after the election. Vote-by-mail ballots that arrive as many as 17 days after Nov. 3 will still be counted, so long as they are postmarked by Election Day.

So the vote counting will take time. County officials have 30 days certify the results, if they need them.

When asked if we can trust the turnout figures we hear on election night, Kim Alexander of the California Voter Foundation was blunt: "No. Turnout numbers on election night, not just in California, but all over the country, are preliminary. And they don't include all of the ballots that were cast."

Alexander and other voting experts were initially skeptical about reading too much into 2020's early voting numbers. But the votes just keep pouring in. "I am super encouraged by what we're seeing," Alexander said.

So how high could turnout get? Predicting an exact number is a fool's errand, said USC's Mindy Romero, founder and director of the Center for Inclusive Democracy.

Still, she wouldn't be surprised if Los Angeles County's turnout tops 70%, a figure not seen since 2008. (Full Story)