California election results will be available from the Secretary of State's web site this evening after the polls close at 8 p.m. The first results likely to appear will be the early vote-by-mail ballots. These are the estimated 2 million ballots California voters returned by mail prior to today. They are typically counted on Election Day and the results are ready to be announced as soon as polls close.
The next set of ballots that will start showing up will be the polling place ballots. The speed with which these results get posted will largely depend on what kind of voting equipment a county is using. Counties using in-precinct scanners to count paper ballots at the polls will likely get their polling place ballot results in faster than counties that are centrally counting paper ballots. Three counties will be using electronic voting machines. Check out CVF's County by County Directory of Voting Systems to see what kind of system each county is using.
The last set of ballots that will be counted are the vote-by-mail ballots that are returned to polling places on Election Day, and provisional ballots which are used by voters whose registration status is in question, or who failed to receive or misplaced their vote-by-mail ballot. These ballots may account for as much as 25 percent of all of the ballots being cast in this election, and they take considerably longer to count because they must be carefully verified before being counted.
So, it may be Thursday or even Friday before we know which Presidential candidates win the popular vote in California. And it may be weeks before we actually know how many delegate votes are awarded to each candidate. Both major parties award their delegate votes by congressional district, so in order to determine how many delegates each candidate has won you need to know what the results are by congressional district. I checked in with the Secretary of State's office on this matter earlier today, and the staff informed me that the Secretary of State's election returns web page will feature election results by congressional district.