More than 20 previously uncounted ballots discovered during California's Congressional District 16 recount

Grace Hase, The Mercury News on

Published in Political News

SAN JOSE, Calif. — As the recount in the Congressional District 16 race entered its fourth day, more than 20 ballots excluded from the original count in Santa Clara County have been uncovered — a development that could swing the results of the election and break the tie for second between Assembly member Evan Low and Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian.

Low and Simitian, who ended the March primary in a 30,249-to-30,249 dead heat, were set to join front-runner and former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo on the November ballot — a first for a congressional race since California changed its primary rules in 2012.

But in came Jonathan Padilla, a 2020 Biden delegate and former Liccardo mayoral campaign staffer, who requested the recount and has been making the daily payments through a Super PAC called Count the Vote.

The machine recount of the 182,135 votes cast in the March primary race to replace U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo began Monday morning and is expected to take one to two weeks. But the final tally of votes could now tick upward as Padilla’s attorneys discovered ballots that weren’t counted originally but which they believe should have.

“I think there’s at least 23 voters that complied with the election code,” said Matthew Alvarez, a partner and election attorney at Rutan and Tucker that Padilla hired. “For normal reasons during an election they were missed and they should be counted now.”

Alvarez said discovering ballots that were accidentally excluded is a normal part of the recount process.


Liccardo campaign consultant Orrin Evans said in a statement that “Sam Liccardo believes that every vote should be counted. Period. It is unconscionable that anyone would argue against the inclusion of every legal ballot.”

Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters spokesperson Michael Borja was unable to say whether the ballots referenced by Alvarez would be counted.

“There’s a queue of challenges building up,” he said. “The executives and our county counsel will have to review them and it will take some time.”

As of mid-day Thursday, Santa Clara County had recounted ballots from 108 of the 199 precincts in the district.


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