Most neighborhoods had at least half of their votes counted prior to election day thanks to more voting options this year.

This year’s election saw historic voter turnouts across the country and Santa Monica was no exception, setting records for both voter participation and early voting.

While the final number of votes cast in Santa Monica is yet to be released, vote counts already show that 68 percent of registered voters cast ballots on local measures compared to only 42 percent in 2016.

“As Election Week 2020 closes, we celebrate historic participation in our democratic process, made possible by local government employees and volunteers not only here in Santa Monica but in every state across our nation,” said Interim City Manager Lane Dilg.

With residents galvanized by the high stakes elections and push for vote-by-mail, Santa Monica saw widespread participation in early voting. By Election Day 53 percent of registered voters had already cast their ballot and had it recorded by the County.

While high rates of early voting was a City wide trend, levels of participation varied by neighborhood.

The North of Montana neighborhood led early voting with 65 percent of registered voters’ ballots being counted prior to Election Day. This was closely followed by the Northeast Neighbors neighborhood with 62 percent of registered voters’ ballots counted before Election Day. The Pico Neighborhood had the lowest percentage of early voter turnout, where 42 percent of registered voters’ ballots were counted before Election Day. The second lowest was the Mid City neighborhood with 49 percent.

In general Santa Monica’s voter preferences matched those of the County and state, but there were some noticeable differences.

One of the most significant differences was Prop 21, which would have given cities the option to expand rent control. In Santa Monica, a city of 70 percent renters, 57 percent of votes counted by Nov. 4 were in favor of Prop 21, however the proposition failed to pass as it only gained 40 percent of the statewide vote.

Santa Monicans tended to vote more liberally than the rest of California, supporting Prop 16, which would have restored affirmative action, and Prop 25, which would have ended cash bail. Both these measures failed to pass in the state election.

Santa Monicans also voted against Prop 22, which was passed by the state and gives app-based services like Uber and Lyft exemptions from providing certain employee benefits.

Early voters in Santa Monica demonstrated a wide preference for vote-by-mail over early voting in person. Vote-by-mail ballots made up between 79 percent and 85 percent of ballots received prior to Election Day across Santa Monica’s seven neighborhoods, with a city-wide average of 83 percent.

This preference was visible at Santa Monica’s ten vote centers, which were all noticeably quiet on Election Day. Despite fears of civil unrest, vote-by-mail issues, and technological glitches, local voting efforts went off without a hitch.

“It was a very successful day of voting in Santa Monica. We had record turnout while also never exceeding 15 minute wait times at any of our polling locations,” said City Clerk, Denise Anderson-Warren. “We’re grateful to poll workers for following all health measures to create a safe space for voters to cast their ballots and to the community institutions who participated by hosting vote centers. It was an all-around smooth election season and we appreciate everyone’s contributions and participation in this vital democratic process.”

Clara@smdp.com