FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- With the deadline to vote fast approaching, Americans are turning out in record numbers.
According to the state, more than 6.5 million ballots have already been returned in California, while Fresno County continues to outpace itself with more than 150,000 ballots submitted with still eight days to go before Election Day.
"The numbers that we're seeing now far exceed the number that we saw in 2016, and I think it's going to continue to grow," says Fresno County Clerk Brandi Orth.
Orth believes this year's voter turnout could be the highest in Fresno County history.
Across the state, about three times as many California residents have participated in early voting so far compared to 2016.
While there is no clear-cut reason for the increase, officials have their theories.
"People are voting early, they're getting the message," Orth said. "I think COVID is affecting their method of voting. We've made it so easy, you can return it by mail or by the dropbox and that everyone had received a ballot automatically in the mail."
Fresno County voters can return their signed ballots 24/7 to any one of the 66 secure drop boxes across the county.
Voters who want an in-person voting experience can also go to the Election Office located on Kern Street in Downtown Fresno.
The recommended deadline to mail-in ballots is Tuesday.
"You just have a lot more opportunities to vote early, so those are big changes that I think also affect turnout," Orth said.
While we won't know the results until Election Night -- as of Friday -- nearly 65,000 (64,972) registered Democrats, nearly 47,000 (46,852) Republicans and nearly 28,000 (27,903) Independents had cast their ballots.
Fresno County sees big turnout in early voting compared to recent years