Assemblymember Evan Low introduces new bill after unusual congressional recount

Lauren Martinez Image
Thursday, June 13, 2024
New CA recount bill introduced after unusual congressional primary
Assemblymember Evan Low is introducing a new bill that aims to take the politics out of recounts after he was in an unusual recount in the race for the District 16 Congressional seat.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Assemblymember Evan Low is introducing a new bill that he says aims to take the politics out of recounts.

Assembly Bill 996 would call for automatic recounts in close statewide elections.

"Of course, this comes directly as a result of the experience that I was in," Low said.

Low tied for second place with Supervisor Joe Simitian in the March primary election for the District 16 Congressional seat.

A request for a recount came soon after - current law says it has to come from a voter - and paid for privately.

RELATED: Evan Low beats Joe Simitian for 2nd place, will face Sam Liccardo in District 16 congressional race

Low narrowly beat Simitian by five votes.

"And then when I found out as a candidate in the race that someone else requested the recount in my name, without my approval, and being funded by an out-of-state billionaire - I think leaves one to wonder that this doesn't pass the smell test," Low said.

In Santa Clara County, very close races on the local level are already recounted.

Assemblymember Low said his bill would trigger a recount for any statewide race, where candidates had less than 25 votes or 0.25% of the number of the cast ballots separating them.

"This proposal number one requires that of an automatic recount paid for by the county, and number two requires real time disclosures of any funding over $10,000 of a recount effort," Low said.

According to the proposed bill - those who spend $10,000 or more on voter-requested recounts must be publicized within 24 hours.

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

Political Scientist with Menlo College Melissa Michelson said this bill can take the scandal or mystery out of who is actually paying for a recount.

"This is a way to separate the democracy of it, the actual count, from the politics of it who decides to have a recount, who pays for a recount," Michelson said.

To Michelson, even though the headline may be about automatic recounts paid for by the government, she thinks the bill will greatly impact who is funding recounts that will have to be paid for.

"Should your chances of winning an election or getting your victory properly noted depend on your ability to raise cash after the election? To pay for a recount? So let's take the money out of it," Michelson said.

She said having the law in place would mean voter preferences are accurately reflected.

"Given that the outcome changed after the recount kind of points out this problem, if you have a very close race errors can be made and votes can be miscounted. It's like that saying measure twice cut once," Michelson said.

Simitian had no comment to share at this time.

Low will face former San Jose mayor Sam Liccardo in November.

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