CA's District 16 congressional race nears end on unusual ballot recount

Zach Fuentes Image
Thursday, April 25, 2024
District 16 congressional race nears end on unusual ballot recount
The recount process is winding down in the Silicon Valley District 16 congressional race that ended in a tie for second place.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- The recount process is winding down in the Silicon Valley congressional race that ended in a tie.

Three candidates are moving on to the general election unless the recount finds different results.

Votes in this race are being counted in both Santa Clara and San Mateo counties.

Both counties saying that they are just about done with the actual process of recounting.

Now, there's just more than a dozen ballots that need some verification.

RELATED: Recount requested in CA's District 16 Congressional primary race

The primary race for the District 16 congressional seat led to unprecedented results that were certified in early April.

"We ended up with two candidates exactly tied for second place," said Melinda Jackson, professor of Political Science at San Jose State University, "This means that three people would go to the runoff in November instead of two."

The initial results of the primary showed that Sam Liccardo was in a distant first place to move on to November, with Evan Low and Joe Simitian tied for second place, but a request for a recount came soon after the election certification.

That request came from Jonathan Padilla. According to his LinkedIn profile, he was a policy and finance director for Liccardo's 2014 San Jose mayoral campaign.

Though he requested the recount on behalf of Low, Low's campaign said they are not connected with him, insisting Padilla is acting on behalf of Liccardo's campaign.

RELATED: Here's how much a recount costs in tied District 16 congressional race and who requested it

Liccardo's team has not claimed a current association with Padilla.

"It's unclear exactly, if there's been any coordination between the front runner, Sam Liccardo, and the person requesting the recount," Jackson said, "But that's kind of how the political dynamics shape up in this case, that the person who actually came in first might like to have a two person race rather than a three person race in November."

The person requesting the recount has to pay for it but now, because of the unusual circumstances in this three person race, the requestor will not be refunded no matter the result.

"In this situation, one of the election codes actually says that you cannot get a refund if the two candidates were entitled to be on the ballot in November and both of them qualify to be on the ballot in November. So there's no refund," said Evelyn Mendez, spokesperson with Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters.

San Mateo County tells us that it's had ballots that are challenged.

They are working with the U.S. Postal Service to determine if the ballots were sent by the Election Day deadline and can count.

RELATED: CA District 16 congressional race: Who raised most campaign funds, what they hope to bring to seat

Still as far as rescanning the ballots that are not in question, San Mateo County says its done and those results so far have not changed from the certified results. Santa Clara County said it's also near the end of rescanning and expects to be done with the recount Friday.

"The process is complex, everyone thinks is just an easy, grab the ballots and recount them, it's not that you have to pull certain ones, you have to find all the ones that are tied to that specific contest," Mendez said, "There's a lot of pieces to it that people think is such an easy process, but a lot of steps to it behind the scenes and we want to make sure that we do every single thing efficient."

As for those challenged ballots and whether or not they can be counted in San Mateo County, the assistant chief elections officer said Wednesday that there should be a decision within a couple of days.

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