Bernie Sanders to rally supporters in Richmond and encourage early voting
With early voting in full swing across California, Sen. Bernie Sanders is headed to Richmond today to rally his supporters and encourage them to get their ballots in as soon as possible.
The presidential contender — who’s led the most recent California polls — will hold a get-out-the-vote rally at the East Bay city’s harborfront Craneway Pavilion that kicks off at noon.
He’s the latest of several presidential contenders who’ve come through the state in recent days, many stopping over from neighboring Nevada, where voters caucus on Saturday.
Former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg held a rally in Sacramento on Friday and did several fundraisers in the Bay Area. Sen. Amy Klobuchar was also set to hold a fundraiser in San Francisco on Sunday, but she canceled her appearance after coming down with a cold and called in to the event instead, Bloomberg News reported.
President Trump is set to swing through Los Angeles, Riverside County and Bakersfield for fundraisers and other events on Tuesday and Wednesday, including a fundraiser at the Palm Springs-area estate of Oracle chairman Larry Ellison.
Sanders’ campaign has made a special focus on the 5.5 million California voters who are registered without party preference. While the Vermont senator has done especially well with independent voters in the past, they have to specifically request a Democratic ballot to vote for him in California.
The Sanders’ campaign says they’ve trained volunteers and staffers to help educate those voters, and have also established a hotline for supporters to call if they have any issues casting their ballots. Staff at the Richmond rally were preparing to collect ballots from Sanders supporters attending.
As of Sunday, more than 862,000 Californians had already returned their ballots, according to a tally by the state political firm Political Data Inc. That’s far more than at this point during the last presidential primary: In 2016, just about 582,000 votes had been cast by mail with 16 days to go until election day.
The increase is at least in part due to changes in voting procedures around the state that have increased our use of vote-by-mail, with more than 15 million voters around the state receiving their ballots in the mail. It’s too early to say how overall turnout will compare with the 2016 primary, when Sanders lost California to Hillary Clinton by 7 percent.