San Diego County Registrar of Voters

By The Numbers: Historic Turnout, Quicker Results Expected in San Diego

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Good on you, San Diego. Praise over voter turnout in our county has been pouring in from all angles, and it’s more than justified by the data.

The San Diego County Registrar of Voters Office expects voter turnout in the range of 80 to 85% of the county’s nearly 1.95 million registered voters.

By the morning of Election Day more than 1.2 million mail-in ballots had already been returned, and more than 635,000 had been dropped off. As of Nov. 2, more than 85,000 people had voted early in person at the county’s more than 230 polling locations.

The early returns allowed the Registrar’s office a head start on counting ballots, so for the first time ever, according to Registrar of Voters Michael Vu, the office’s first results report just after the polls close at 8 p.m. on Lection Day will account for more than a million ballots. In fact, Vu said he expects the first results report to account for 60 to 70% of expected voter turnout.

For historical comparison, here’s a look at voter turnout in some recent General Elections:

  • 66% in the 2018 Gubernatorial General Election
  • 81% in the 2016 Presidential General Election
  • 45% in the 2014 Gubernatorial General Election
  • 77% in the 2012 Presidential General Election

Vu credited San Diegans taking advantage of the option to vote by mail, as well as a new voting system, for the quick turn around.

“Voters in San Diego County prefer voting by mail, even before the pandemic, and so we’ve always created an infrastructure, as well as purchased a voting system, that allows us to process those ballots much more quickly,” Vu said.

While San Diegans had until 8 p.m. Tuesday to submit their votes, Vu said Tuesday morning that no polling place in the county had experienced any long lines or wait times.

And for anyone skittish about voting in-person, Vu said there is no cause for concern.

Poll workers are dressed in PPE including face masks and face shields, and voters are offered gloves, hand sanitizer, and even a free mask if they don’t bring their own.

“Don’t hesitate,” he said. “We’ve done everything we can to ensure the health and safety is at our heart, as well as allowing you the opportunity to vote.”

Plexiglass barriers also separate voting stations at the Registrar of Voters Office

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