California Gov. Gavin Newsom seized an advantage in his bid to turn back a recall effort and remain governor as polls closed in the state Tuesday. Based upon exit polls and survey by mail of early voters, the choice of no to recalling the relatively popular first-term Democrat was leading.

The coronavirus pandemic was the top issue for voters, with 7 in 10 saying they supported California’s mask requirements for students in schools, according to early exit polls. Newsom has pushed for stricter mandates, while Republican candidate Larry Elder opposes vaccine and mask requirements.

Newsom, now in the third year of his four-year term, has in recent weeks taken a strong lead in the recall race as more Californians became aware of the need to vote in September of a non-election year. Elder, without evidence, pushed the idea that the election was rigged even before the votes were tallied.

Counting of the ballots has begun, but with more than 9 million Californians taking part in early voting, the final results may not be known for days.

Here’s what to know:

  • The recall ballot had two questions voters must answer: Do you want to recall Newsom? If the governor is recalled, who do you want to replace him?
  • Just three years ago, Newsom won with 62 percent of the vote in a race that featured record turnout.
  • The Washington Post has live-updating maps, vote counts and analysis of California’s election to recall Newsom from office.
  • On the East Coast, Boston voters were casting ballots in the preliminary mayoral election certain to make history with the choice of two people of color, possibly both women.