With 101,613 vote-by-mail, provisional and other ballots left to count as of Wednesday afternoon in Orange County, the results of Tuesday's primary election won't become final for about another week.
But Neal Kelley, the county's registrar of voters, said that an as-anticipated low turnout, coupled with a day of pretty smooth operations, means that residents shouldn't have to wait much longer before they know for sure which candidates will be dueling in the general election come November.
"I'll tell you what," he said. "This is my 32nd election in 10 years, and comparatively [Tuesday] went very well."
According to early estimates, a little more than 24% of the county's electorate participated, lower than the 26.5% and 30.1% for primaries in 2012 and 2010, respectively.
Kelley estimated that it would take workers a "good five solid days" to finish counting the remaining ballots, ensuring that signatures match and feeding the ballots through whirring machines at the registrar's headquarters in Santa Ana.
He said he expected to be able to certify results in less than 10 days.
Still, the way that people choose to vote matters — and the state should take a hint based on Tuesday's results, said Fred Smoller, an associate political science professor at Chapman University who closely follows Orange County politics.
"Why haven't we shifted to all-mail voting?" he asked, reached earlier this week. "Statewide, we could save hundreds of millions of dollars."
An early count Wednesday showed that just about 6.2% of the county's 1,411,232 registered voters cast ballots at 1,200 polling places staffed by 250 employees and 6,000 volunteers.
Meanwhile, Smoller said, states such as Oregon conduct elections entirely by mail and boast higher participation — particularly in less flashy primaries like Tuesday's.
"I think that, to me, is the most important story out of this election," he said.
In any case, there wasn't much change from late Tuesday night to Wednesday, as far as Newport-Mesa's election storylines went.
Former Newport Beach mayor and frontrunner in the 74th Assembly District race Keith Curry saw his lead over Huntington Beach Mayor Matt Harper shrink slightly overnight, from 4.6% to 3.4%.
The two are likely headed for a runoff in November.
That seat's current holder, Assemblyman Allan Mansoor (R-Costa Mesa), was still trailing far behind Board of Equalization member Michelle Steel in the Orange County Board of Supervisors 2nd District race — albeit by not quite as much.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Steel had 25,433, or 46.7% of the votes counted, over Mansoor's 12,768, or 23.5%. Mansoor made about a 1% gain on Steel. The two are poised to head to a runoff.
Wednesday, though, Steel issued a victory statement.
"I am so grateful for the support of my neighbors and fellow residents of the 2nd District," she said in the statement. "I can't wait to continue sharing my ideas for reforming and improving Orange County government with voters over the coming months ... "
Most countywide races also saw little change overnight, with incumbents, such as Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas, easily headed new terms.
However, longtime County Assessor Webster Guillory, who has served in the office since 1998, could now be facing a runoff after taking a majority lead Tuesday. Though he had won 50.9% of the votes counted by late Tuesday night, by the next afternoon, that number had dipped to 47.2%. Former state Board of Equalization member Claude Parrish had drawn 43.4% of the vote as of Wednesday afternoon.
Similarly, incumbents and frontrunners easily won spots in mandatory November runoffs, as in the case of Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa), who had more than 50% of the vote, with Newport Beach Democrat Suzanne Savary in second place with just less than 20%. Costa Mesa Councilwoman Wendy Leece, a Republican, was also among the field.
State Sen. Mimi Walters (R-Laguna Niguel) took a commanding lead in the race to replace retiring Rep. John Campbell (R-Irvine) over Democrat Drew Leavens, of Irvine, who will likely be her opponent in November.