SACRAMENTO — Nearly a million ballots cast in Tuesday’s primary election have not been counted yet, Secretary of State Debra Bowen reported Friday.
Elections officials in all 58 counties provided estimates to the state as they wade through ballots dropped off at polls and provisional votes cast on Election Day. There were 991,699 Friday morning, but the number fell to 926,069 later Friday as more votes were counted.
Several high-profile races were still too close to call, including who finished second for controller, where only 6,542 votes separate Republican accountant David Evans and two Democrats, former Speaker John Perez and Board of Equalization member Betty Yee.
The registrars have so far counted nearly 3.4 million ballots cast Tuesday, which puts turnout at 19.2 percent. With the outstanding ballots, turnout could approach 25 percent, which would be a record low for a regular election in California but better than some forecasts.
The previous low for a nonpresidential primary was 33.1 percent in June 2010. Turnout was 28.2 percent in June 2008, an anomaly when the state split the presidential and primary elections.
Many of the uncounted votes are from permanent absentee voters who received their ballots in the mail but do not return them by mail. More of those voters appear to be getting their ballots early but don’t turn them in at a polling place until Election Day, which delays the vote count, said Paul Mitchell, vice president of Political Data Inc., a consulting firm that tracks voter data.
Tuesday was the first statewide election in which the top two vote-getters advance to November regardless of their party affiliation.
Experts blame the low turnout on a lack of exciting races to draw voters, such as a competitive race for governor or citizen-led ballot initiatives, which the state Legislature have permanently moved to the general election.