If there’s one thing we can know for certain today, it’s that a lot of Californians — millions upon millions, more than the populations of many states — voted. (Also, that Joseph R. Biden Jr. won the state easily.)
Around 13.4 million ballots had already been cast, Paul Mitchell, vice president of the bipartisan data firm Political Data Inc., told me early on Tuesday evening, “and that’s not counting a lot of the ballots that are coming in right now.”
[Find results for all the California races.]
“Raw voter turnout is going to exceed anything the state’s ever seen,” he said.
Still, you might not have known that California was in the midst of a democratic deluge from the looks of voting centers on Election Day.
Mr. Mitchell said that according to projections, the final vote count could be between 16 and 17 million, with roughly two million likely to be in-person votes at the polls.
Voters across the state sought out memorable places to play their part in democracy, from Dodger Stadium to a famous leather bar in San Francisco — a marked contrast from the March primary, when hourslong waits frustrated voters, particularly in the state’s most populous county, Los Angeles.
In Oakland, voters cast their ballots al fresco with a nice view of Lake Merritt. Workers used tongs to take ballots from voters in their cars.
“We get a lot of jokes, like, ‘Can I have a side of ribs with that?’” one election worker told my colleague Thomas Fuller.
[Here’s background about key races in California.]
I decided to head to Porter Ranch in the San Fernando Valley, where I visited voting centers at a charter elementary school tucked among winding blocks of ranch houses framed by golden hillsides, and at a large church hall near a sprawl of upscale strip malls.
The day was quiet, and election workers at both sites said they’d seen a steady flow of voters dropping off or casting ballots over the course of several days. Some voters had taken advantage of the state’s same-day registration process.
The election workers said that they encountered virtually no issues with voters wearing masks or following other rules.
I thought I’d be able to catch voters with strong preferences for either of the candidates for state’s 25th Congressional District seat, the Democratic State Assembly member Christy Smith or the Republican incumbent Mike Garcia, who as of early Wednesday morning were still locked in a very close battle.
But voters I spoke with said they were most focused on the top of the ticket, in spite of the fact that Mr. Biden’s victory in California was essentially a foregone conclusion.
If they didn’t skip local races altogether, they said they followed party affiliation.
“I didn’t vote in 2016,” Parvin Moosavi, 56, told me, as she stood outside Castlebay Lane Charter Elementary School. “But I think everyone should exercise their vote to kick him out.”
She was referring to President Trump.
Ms. Moosavi said she’d supported Senator Bernie Sanders previously, and while she was disappointed that he wasn’t the Democratic candidate, she felt strongly that Mr. Biden could help restore the middle class and better control the pandemic.
A health care worker, Ms. Moosavi said she’s lived in the United States for decades after moving from Iran. But she has family in Europe and if the president were re-elected, she would move there.
Outside of a voting center at InChrist Community Church not far away, Irwin Lehrhoff, 91, told me that in 2016 he voted for the president in hopes of seeing “a businessman, not a politician,” in the White House. On Tuesday, though, he cast a vote for Mr. Biden.
“It was just too many lies on Covid,” he said. “You can’t have a president you can’t trust.”
On the rest of his ballot, Mr. Lehrhoff, a Porter Ranch resident, said he “pretty much followed the Republican Party.”
What to know about results
Votes are still being counted in California, and will be for days. But with roughly 73 percent of votes reported, some of the races have been called, according to The Times’s tracker.
As with other states, Mr. Mitchell said mailed votes tended to skew Democratic, whereas in-person voters were more likely to be Republican. But, as we’ve mentioned, many of the biggest debates the state faced don’t split along clear partisan lines.
Here’s where things stand:
Proposition 17, aimed at restoring voting rights to people on parole for felony convictions, passed.
Proposition 20, an effort to crack down on some types of misdemeanor crimes and roll back some sentencing reforms, failed.
Proposition 21, which would have expanded local governments’ ability to enact rent control, failed.
Proposition 23, an effort to require more oversight of dialysis clinics, failed.
The rest, including some key ballot questions and crucial House races, were still too close to call. We’ll have more soon on what the results mean.
In other election news:
President Trump brazenly and falsely claimed that he had won the election. But ballots are still being counted and tabulated. Here’s a guide to what we can safely say we know and an hour-by-hour guide to when. [The New York Times]
And what would happen if the election results were contested? The process for deciding the presidential race has never been straightforward, but this year it’s especially unlikely to be smooth. Here’s what to expect. [The New York Times]
And Finally …
If you voted in California, you got an “I Voted” sticker. But, look, you might want another one. You probably want another one. My colleagues made some digital stickers you can download. So have another sticker.
California Today goes live at 6:30 a.m. Pacific time weekdays. Tell us what you want to see: CAtoday@nytimes.com. Were you forwarded this email? Sign up for California Today here and read every edition online here.
Jill Cowan grew up in Orange County, graduated from U.C. Berkeley and has reported all over the state, including the Bay Area, Bakersfield and Los Angeles — but she always wants to see more. Follow along here or on Twitter.
California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from U.C. Berkeley.