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In Sacramento County, Results Began to Come in While Voters Were Still in Line

SACRAMENTO -- In Sacramento County, voter turnout on Tuesday was huge.

"I think that it's safe to say that we’re going to go well over 500,000 ballots, if not into the 600,000," county spokeswoman Janna Haynes said.

Haynes says just 39,000 people decided to vote in person.

"So despite the fact that vote centers had been open for at least four days and, in some cases 11 days, 89 percent of our in-person voters still waited until yesterday," Haynes told FOX40.

Haynes says there was a surge of voters after 5 p.m.

As photos from Elk Grove show, some had to wait in line for up to two hours. As long as they were in that line before 8 p.m., they still got to vote -- but many late voters already saw results before they even got their ballot.

"It's actuarial science," democratic strategist Ed Emerson said.

Emerson explains early results are guesstimates based on the first ballots counted.

"The idea that you can do an accurate forecast based upon about 800 to a thousand individuals is true," Emerson said. "It's mathematically proven."

Paul Mitchell, vice president of Californian bipartisan voter data firm Political Data Incorporated, says there's even a term for those calls.

"In the political business, they're actually called 8:01's," he said.

And in Sacramento County, that counting continues.

"Counted? We are probably less than 50 percent," Haynes said.

But while there are always outliers, Emerson says races that don’t start out as very close, don’t typically change as more votes come in.

"Those ballots, as they begin to count them, depending upon where they come from, are pretty much going to reflect the general Election Day voting behavior," Emerson said.

But some races, as Mitchell notes, could actually change as more ballots are counted.

“In the Superintendent of Public Instruction race, Marshal Tuck is ahead. But that lead has been shrinking and shrinking as the votes get counted," Mitchell said. "And there are a lot of people that believe, ultimately, Tony Thurmond will maybe tomorrow, maybe next week, be the ultimate winner."

Counties in California have until Dec. 6 to release official results.