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Here's What Record Early Returns Mean For California's Vote Tally

A poll worker helps voters at the Beverly Hills City Hall vote center on October 28, 2020. (VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images)
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Story by Lewis Griswold and Aaron Leathley for CalMatters.

For political junkies, the pandemic might have at least one upside: You can expect to know pretty quickly after California polls close how record early voters are breaking for the presidential election and the propositions.

"I do think it will be all vote-by-mail or mostly," Chris Miller, spokesman for the Secretary of State's office, said of the first vote totals after 8 p.m.

More than 11 million ballots were returned to elections departments as of Saturday. That's about half of the ballots sent to all California voters. Many of the ballots have already been processed, and are ready to be quickly totaled on election night. Those processed include some early in-person votes.

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California made it easier this year to vote early to avoid spreading the coronavirus, either by avoiding the polls altogether and voting by mail, or by voting in person early to avoid anticipated crowds on election day.