Chris McGivern drove 20 miles from Laguna Beach to Santa Ana to vote on Monday because he was afraid work and school would prevent him from getting to the polls on Election Day. Vikki Vargas reports from Santa Ana for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Nov. 5, 2012.
Over the weekend, early voters in Los Angeles County "swarmed" the Norwalk office where they could cast their ballots in advance of Election Day, according the chief election official.
Some 3,500 people showed up on Saturday and Sunday at the headquarters of the Los Angeles County Registar-Recoder/County Clerk. One voter told NBC4 she waited in line for more than two hours.
Many of those in line were enthusiastic, however, and Registar-Recoder/County Clerk Dean Logan said the turnout was welcome.
"We are staffed up and ready to serve people and we are excited to have them show up to vote," Logan said.
Those who cast their ballots at Logan's Norwalk headquarters since early voting began in late October have been representative of the county's diverse electorate, he said. Many are busy or unable to find time to get to a polling place Tuesday but still want to physically cast their ballots – and get that precious "I voted" sticker.
"Some people just like that kind of symbolic moment of coming and voting in person," Logan said.
At county clerk offices across Southern California, voters were able to cast ballots early in recent weeks, and voting continued Monday.
Registration ticked up before the election, but was not as high as the rate seen before the 2008 election, officials said.
A significant portion of younger prospective voters between ages 18 and 29 had taken advantage of the state's new online voter registration system, which began in September, Logan said.
In Orange County, voters converged on Santa Ana to cast their early ballots, including Chris McGivern who drove from Laguna Beach, concerned that work and school would keep him from getting to the polls on Tuesday.
There are some 1.7 million registered voters in OC, and nearly half of them requested a vote-by-mail ballot.
"We had about 50 percent of those returned, but I see a big rush at the polling place to drop off last-minute vote-by-mail ballots," OC registrar of voters Neal Kelley said, adding that behavior could be indicative of voters' indecision in a race predicted to be close.
The vote-by-mail ballot already received in Orange County have been opened by machine, separated into precints and put into the system to be counted at 8 p.m. Tuesday, when the polls close. Only the signatured are verified by humans.
Many balloters in Santa Ana on Monday said finding peace of mind drove them to the polls early.
"It’s possible that it could be a close race so I wanted to make sure that the candidate I’m supporting has my vote before end of day tomorrow," Judy Asman said.
On Election Day, Orange County voters will see the only electronic voting system in use in Southern California. But just like paper ballots, the E-Slate devices must be driven to the registrar's headquarters to be counted.
Voters can cast their ballots at the following locations on Election Day, or at their polling local place:
It's too late to post mail-in ballots, but they can be dropped off at any polling place in the county where you are registered to vote.