Shortly after the polls close tonight, voters in Santa Clara County will likely have a clear idea where local races are heading -- including the race for San Jose mayor.
About 72 percent of the county's 805,502 registered voters now vote by mail. As of this morning, 583,606 vote-by-mail ballots had been issued; 168,298 ballots or 28.84 percent have been returned, according to the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters website.
By state law, the registrar can open and start scanning the vote-by- mail ballots 11 days before the election, meaning the numbers can be posted right after the polls close, said Matt Morales, assistant Santa Clara County registrar of voters.
"Because we have such a high number of vote-by-mail voters in this county compared to others, those results are going to be a much better indicator of what the vote is going to look like," Morales said.
The increase in vote-by-mail ballots is happening all over California, said Neal Kelley, president of the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials and the registrar of voters in Orange County.
"It is a fair statement to say of all the larger, urban counties, Santa Clara County is No. 1," said Kelley. "No question when you look at the ratio of vote-by-mail ballots to registered voters."
Overall, the Santa Clara County Registrar is expecting 40 to 50 percent of voters to drop off their ballots or vote directly at the polls.