Election Day: Early turnout is light, but that will change

Lots of vote-by-mail voters seem to have waited until the last minute to cast their ballots.

At first glance, the turnout for Election Day seems a bit slow: The Department of Elections reports that 385,999 vote-by-mail ballots have been issued, and as of today, only 93,392 have been returned. That’s less than 25 percent. The numbers are the same for Democratic Party ballots – only about 25 percent of the 234, 679 that were issued have been returned.

(Interesting, 41 percent of the people who are not registered with any party but requested a Democratic ballot have turned theirs in.)

This chart shows that the number of returned ballots has picked up in the past few days.

But I think this is a bit misleading. Most people I know who vote by mail were waiting until after the South Carolina primary to vote – and for good reason. If you were a big fan of Pete Buttigieg, and you voted for him the moment your ballot arrived, you just (for all practical purposes) wasted your vote; he’s not in the race anymore.

The convention rules are complicated, but in essence, if Buttigieg wins any delegates today, they will wind up going to Milwaukee uncommitted to any candidate.

At my polling place in Bernal Heights, as many people dropped off VBM ballots as cast Election Day ballots, and I think we are going to see that all over the city.

Which means that, for the close races, we won’t know until all of those ballots are counted – maybe not until next week – what the actual results are.