Recount Underway in Tight California Congressional Race Amid Ballot Challenges

Recount underway in tight California congressional race, with challenges over ballot envelopes and funding concerns. Outcome could significantly impact the November general election.

Nasiru Eneji Abdulrasheed
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Recount Underway in Tight California Congressional Race Amid Ballot Challenges

Recount Underway in Tight California Congressional Race Amid Ballot Challenges

A recount is currently underway in the closely contested runoff for California's 16th Congressional District between Assemblymember Evan Low and Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian. The two candidates tied for second place in the primary election, with the winner set to face former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo in the November general election.

Election officials in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, which comprise the district, are working diligently to complete the recount process by the end of this week. However, the recount has faced challenges related to ballot envelopes, including those from homeless voters and individuals who did not answer the citizenship question.

Preliminary partial results in Santa Clara County showed Simitian ahead of Low by a single vote. In San Mateo County, 16 ballots that were initially excluded due to a "simple oversight" are now being challenged by an election attorney representing Jonathan Padilla, a 2020 and 2024 Biden delegate and former campaign staffer for Liccardo. The attorney argues these ballots should be counted as they were received by the deadline.

The recount was requested by Padilla, who paid for it using a "dark money" super PAC. This has raised concerns from the Low campaign about the recount's legal legitimacy and demands for transparency around its funding sources. The Liccardo campaign maintains it has no involvement with the recount, but a complaint has been filed with the Federal Election Commission accusing Liccardo of conspiring to illegally pay for it.

Why this matters: The outcome of this recount could have significant implications for the November general election in California's 16th Congressional District. The race between the frontrunner Liccardo and either Simitian or Low is expected to be highly competitive and closely watched.

San Mateo County Assistant Chief Elections Officer Jim Irizarry said they are reviewing the challenges to the 16 initially excluded ballots and will make a final decision. Election officials in both counties are working to finish rescanning ballots and rule on any remaining challenges by the end of the week. The California Secretary of State will then certify the final vote after receiving numbers from San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, which could happen as soon as Friday night.

Key Takeaways

  • Recount underway in closely contested CA-16 runoff between Evan Low and Joe Simitian.
  • Preliminary results show Simitian ahead by 1 vote in Santa Clara, 16 ballots challenged in San Mateo.
  • Recount requested by Biden delegate Jonathan Padilla using "dark money" super PAC, raising concerns.
  • Outcome could significantly impact November general election between frontrunner Sam Liccardo and winner.
  • Final results expected by end of week after counties complete recount and challenges.