How many people showed up to the polls in California's primary? We might not know for days

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ByLiz Kreutz KGO logo
Thursday, March 5, 2020
How many people voted in California's primary? We might not know for days
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Bernie Sanders is the projected primary winner in California, but how many people actually showed to the polls this year? We might not know for some time. Counties have until April 3 to tally final voter turnout numbers.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- With the California primary moved up to March, a big question is would that impact turnout? Would more people be interested in the race?

If you're looking for the answer, hold tight.

Counties have until April 3 to complete their vote count, so it could be days or possibly even weeks, before we get the full picture.

Still, there are some projections.

Paul Mitchell, vice president of Political Data Inc, projects 10 million voters participated in the California primary -- roughly 50 percent turnout.

RELATED: California elections: Bay Area residents wait in long lines to cast their votes on Super Tuesday

That number would be on par with the primary in 2016.

Both Alameda and Santa Clara counties said their turnout also seems to reflect that of four years ago.

Officials at both county registrar offices said they expect turnout to be slightly less than 50 percent.

San Francisco County, however, says its turnout might be slightly lower than 2016.

John Arntz, the director of the San Francisco's Office of Elections, said the county has at least 125,000 more ballots to review and process.

"I think by the time all the ballots have come back to us from Election Day and night, it will be about 17 percent less from what we projects to be 64 percent turnout for this Election," Arntz said, "And that 64 percent is based on the last three primary Elections."

But again, these are only estimates.

RELATED: Mike Bloomberg to suspend presidential campaign after disappointing Super Tuesday results, endorses Joe Biden

Same day voting, vote by mail, and provisional ballots all result in an ultra-complicated vote counting process.

"They're challenging elections for us to conduct because of all the different types of ballot cards," Arntz said.

Like turnout, final results could also not be known for several weeks.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is the projected winner in California, and leading in nearly every county in the state. But former Vice President Joe Biden is not far behind and is also expected to snatch up some delegates -- a sign the last minute strategy to consolidate the moderate vote might have worked.

"Bernie Sanders was on the cusp of just sweeping a ton of these delegates," Mitchell said of California, which has 415 delegates. "That move, those changes that happened just last weekend, likely would not have happened if it weren't for California being part of Super Tuesday."