The vote Tuesday caps a low-profile campaign to succeed Democrat Antonio Villaraigosa, in which no single issue or candidate riveted voters’ attention.
Strategists doubt that more than one-in-four of the city’s 1.8 million voters will cast ballots.
Only about 22 percent of 660,000 mail-in ballots had been returned by Tuesday morning.
The likely outcome in the heavily Democratic city will send Councilman Eric Garcetti and Controller Wendy Greuel to a May 21 runoff, since it’s unlikely any candidate will clear the majority needed to win outright Tuesday.
But a low turnout could produce surprises, possibly opening the way for Councilwoman Jan Perry or former prosecutor Kevin James to slip into the two-person runoff.