Long Beach sees ‘unprecedented’ voter turnout and short wait times on Election Day

Long Beach is on track to see a record number of people who voted in Tuesday’s election thanks to the ease of voting by mail and short wait times at most voting centers.

While some outstanding ballots remain, City Clerk Monique De La Garza in a news conference Wednesday said she expects to see “unprecedented” numbers compared to previous years.

De La Garza said the county has so far counted 116,394 ballots that were dropped off at official ballot boxes or returned by mail, and 16,372 ballots were cast in person at the city’s 34 voting centers. Votes were still being counted, with updates planned for Wednesday afternoon.

In 2016, by comparison, 65,059 ballots were cast by mail, while 104,059 were cast in person.

Overall, more than 290,000 people registered to vote in this election, compared to 266,963 in 2016, De La Garza said, adding that the numbers are still being tallied.

In 2012, the city saw 232,660 registered voters, compared to 203,159 in 2008.

According to the latest numbers, 47% of registered voters have cast ballots, which is slightly lower than 2016 when 63% of registered voters casting ballots. But De La Garza said she’s expecting this year’s number to be much higher when the final votes are counted.

She noted that Election Day for the most part was smooth and easy in Long Beach, unlike other cities that saw hiccups. Most voting centers had wait times of 15 minutes or less, with a total of 16,000 volunteers. 

“It was really an anomaly in the City of Long Beach,” she said. “The lines were moving at a very good pace in this election cycle.”

With the change from voting precincts, there is no way for the county to immediately track how many ballots cast on Tuesday remain to be counted.

In total, county election officials said more than 3.1 million votes had already been cast, bringing voter turnout to 55.6% headed into Election Day.

While as of Wednesday it was still too early to call the presidential race, most local races saw clear winners. The races for Long Beach School Board and Long Beach City College Board of Trustee were both too close to call.

Mayor Robert Garcia on Wednesday said the city had a “peaceful and positive” Election Day with no major incidents.

“Our public safety personnel did a great job,” he said

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Kelly Puente is an award-winning general assignment and special projects reporter at the Long Beach Post. She has worked as a journalist in Long Beach since 2006, covering everything from education and crime to courts and breaking news. Kelly previously worked at the Long Beach Press-Telegram and the Orange County Register before joining the Post in 2018. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public policy and administration at Cal State Long Beach. Reach her at [email protected].