Despite the new changes to allow more time and access for people to vote, and the early March primary so that voters can have more impact on the presidential primary, the early voter turnout so far has been disappointing.
State wide, the return of absentee ballots is only 23%, with Republic voters edging out Democrat voters by 33% to 23%. In Santa Clara County, the early voter turnout is 20%. Orange County has similar rate. In the past, 80% of ballots cast by mail. Thus, this election is projected to have 30% to 35% turnout similar to the 2012 presidential primary. In comparison, the 2016 presidential primary, the turnout was 50% to 55%.
This year, every register voter automatically receives an absentee ballot that they can mail in without paying postage, drop off at any centralized ballot centers or drop boxes. And with the presidential primary moves to March instead of June, the voters have a bigger impact in deciding the presidential candidates for the November general election.
The low turnout will affect the Democratic primary race. It could mean Bernie Sanders' double digit lead in the poll might not hold up. The turnout is particular low with Hispanic voters. And the trend of young voters (18-25) is as expected, a lot of enthusiasm but does not translate to going to the poll.