Race for 2nd place for CA's District 16 congressional seat tightens

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Wednesday, March 20, 2024
Congressional District 16 race for second place tightens
California State Assemblymember Evan Low holds only a two-vote lead over Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian in the race for District 16 seat.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Two weeks after election day the race to replace Congresswoman Anna Eshoo is about as tight as it can get.

Former San Jose mayor Sam Liccardo has secured a place in the general election leading the pack with 21 percent of the vote.

The nail-biter is to determine his rival.

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As of Tuesday, only two votes put California State Assemblymember Evan Low over Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian.

The congressional district falls within San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, both have until April 4 to submit final official results.

Right now both counties are still processing ballots.

On Monday, San Mateo County said it still had an estimated 20 unprocessed ballots, the next report on ballot processing is expected Wednesday.

Santa Clara County said on Tuesday it had an estimated 1,300 unprocessed ballots, the next report is also expected Wednesday.

The race to replace retiring Rep. Eshoo has become one of the most critical elections in the Bay Area.

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"We see a lot of the fears, criticisms and questions around artificial intelligence. We've seen a lot of debates and discussions about moderating big tech in general and TikTok in particular," said CSU East Bay professor Nolan Higdon. "I think this seat is going to be hugely influential in representing the views of big tech in Congress. So I think this is a very important election and a very important time for the industry."

Many of the unprocessed ballots are what are called challenged ballots.

"When we say 'challenged,' sometimes people forget to sign their ballot or partners sign the different ballots," said Michael Borja, associate communications officer for the Santa Clara County Registrar's Office.

"They have time, 28 days after Election Day to cure their ballots," Borja said. "So we send them a notification."

The registrar's office has to wait until the end of those 28 days to allow voters to fix their ballots.

On Tuesday, Santa Clara County said it had an estimated 1,100 challenged ballots. San Mateo County reported in its Monday update that it had an estimated 680 challenged ballots that have until April 2 to be cured.

VIDEO: Bay Area Rep. Anna Eshoo says she's not running for reelection after over 30 years in Congress

Silicon Valley Rep. Anna Eshoo - who earned notoriety for spearheading cybersecurity, innovation and high-tech legislation - plans to end her three-decade congressional career at the end of her term in 2024.

"We can see that it's a very close race and I think that's a prime example of why it's so important for people to vote and turnout," Borja said.

ABC7 reached out to Simitian Tuesday who sent a statement saying:

"Sometimes it takes a while for democracy to work. This is one of those times. That means counting and verifying all of the votes. Every single one of them."

ABC7 also reached out to Low Tuesday and did not hear back.

Last week he sent a statement that said in part: "To me, no matter the ultimate outcome, the closeness of this race shows that your vote truly matters. Your vote can have a real impact on who represents your community."

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Both candidates will have the opportunity to ask for a recount.

They would have to pay for it, if it goes in their favor they would get that money back.

"I could absolutely see a recount with an election that's this close," Higdon said, "Especially if either of these campaigns have the money to do it, which it looks like they do."

The Santa Clara County Registrar's Office said that between 40 to 60 percent of people follow up to cure their ballots.

The Secretary of State will certify election results on April 12.

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