It’s LICCARDO versus LOW in November, as Last Seven San Mateo County Votes Are Counted

Updated with candidate comments at 5:30pm May 1.

The battle lines are drawn: It's Low v. Liccardo.

When the dust cleared after a contentious nearly three week recount, state Assemblymember Evan Low had five more votes than Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian.

One additional vote from San Mateo County on May 1 added to his Low's four-vote margin in Santa Clara County, giving him a five-vote lead over Simitian, good for the second spot on the November ballot with frontrunner Sam Liccardo, the former San Jose mayor.

In Santa Clara County, Low gained 11 additional votes in the recount for a total of 25,093, while Simitian gained seven votes for a total of 23,775.

Jim Irizarry, San Mateo CountyAssistant Chief Elections Officer, said Wednesday afternoon that of the 16 remaining ballots, Low picked up one vote and Simitian picked up none. Seven were accepted and nine were rejected.

The candidates didn't waste any time beginning the General Election campaign for the coveted Silicon Valley congressional seat.

"Throughout the nearly two month long recount process, while Evan Low tried multiple times to undermine and stop the recount process, Liccardo steadfastly stood by the principle that every vote should be counted," read a Liccardo campaign statement.

“I commend the diligent efforts of our election officials to provide an accurate vote count,” said Liccardo in an afternoon statement. “Despite the efforts of some to stop this recount, we should all celebrate that democracy prevailed. Previously uncounted votes were counted. We can now re-focus on our work ahead, toward solutions to our region’s and nation’s great challenges, such as homelessness, the high cost of living, climate change, public safety, and protecting reproductive

“This election reminds us that every single vote and form of participation matters,” said a relieved Low.  Looking ahead to the next six months, he said,  “As we approach November, we anticipate a remarkable surge in voter engagement across diverse coalitions of voters.”

“These groups backing our proven track record of delivering results will put us in a strong position to win in November,” he said.

“I want to express my gratitude to the dedicated staffs of both Registrars of Voters for their meticulous efforts during this unique recount process, and to the dedicated leader who took this wild recount ride with me, Joe Simitian, whose decades of public service remain an inspiration to me.”

After election officials in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties spent nearly two weeks in a machine recount of nearly 190,000 ballots, inspectors in the main post office in San Francisco spent four days poring over delivery records of just 17 ballots from San Mateo County.

That final results came nearly two months after the March 5 primary.

The Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters on Tuesday announced it had completed its recount and review of more than 153,000 ballots, and announced that state Assemblymember Evan Low held a four-vote lead over Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian.

San Mateo County’s election office reported last week that when it had finished its review, the totals for Low and Simitian were identical to the initial count, when Simitian held a 1,314-vote margin over Low for second place among the county’s approximately 38,000 16th District voters.

The two men had been tied with 30,249 votes apiece from both counties when official totals were certified April 12 by the California Secretary of State, more than 8,000 votes behind frontrunner Liccardo.

With a maximum of just 16 ballots under review, with votes distributed among up to 11 candidates, Simitian hd faced a formidable path to pass Low, even though he had held a solid margin over Low in San Mateo County in March.

In Santa Clara County, the final recount announced Tuesday showed Low gaining 11 votes and Simitian gaining 7 votes compared to the March 5 tally.

“Our elections staff has been working diligently for the past two weeks to conduct this unprecedented recount and ensure that the final results are complete and accurate,” said Santa Clara’s Assistant Registrar of Voters Matt Moreles in a statement. “This is the largest and most complex recount we have conducted, as well as our first machine recount on our new voting system.”

The seat representing the sprawling 16th District, stretching from Pacifica in the northwest to Campbell and west San Jose on the south, opened up in December when Rep. Anna Eshoo announced she would not seek re-election, after more than 30 years in Congress. About 80% of the district residents live in Santa Clara County, and 20% in San Mateo County.

Simitian issued a concession statement late in the afternoon: “The good news is the 16th Congressional District’s long painful exercise counting the votes is over! The not-so-good news: We have come up short. I lost, and I concede. I trust the process, and I accept the result.”

“I want to congratulate Assemblymember Evan Low and former Mayor Sam Liccardo,” Simitian said in a statement. “I have spoken to them both to wish them well. I look forward to the lively campaign they will undoubtedly run.”

Before the recount request by tech executive and former Liccardo staffer Jonathan Padilla, the 16th District was headed to a three-person November contest: Liccardo, Low and Simitian.

“It is not unusual for a recount to change the vote totals, especially in such a large jurisdiction,” said Moreles. “Because this contest was so close with two candidates precisely tied for second place, even tiny changes can make a difference in the outcome.”

The recounts were fully open for public observation, and members of the public were permitted to ask questions and raise challenges.  In Santa Clara County, some challenges involved the interpretation of voter intent when a ballot was marked in an unusual way, Moreles said.

He said the recount requestor asked to review previously uncounted vote-by-mail, provisional, and conditional voter registration ballots. “During the original canvass, these ballots were deemed ineligible and not counted,” he said.

Overall, observers in Santa Clara County challenged 45 uncounted ballots. Of these election officials determined that seven previously uncounted ballots were valid and should be included in the recount results.

The Santa Clara office also identified 19 ballots from six precincts that were included in the recount results that had not been included in the initial canvass results.  The nineteen additional ballots were validated during the initial canvass but were not tallied due to human errors by the tabulation machine operators.  Additionally, the elections office identified three ballots from two precincts that were erroneously counted twice in the original canvass, and those precincts’ results have been corrected in the recount to subtract those ballots.

“This recount has been a learning experience, and we will use these lessons learned to improve our processes and strengthen our quality control safeguards,” Moreles said.

In San Mateo,  Jim Irizarry, assistant county clerk-recorder and assistant chief elections officer, said the machine recount had produced the exact same numbers as the March 5 vote.

One ballot failed to fill in the citizen question and its signature didn’t match. Sixteen ballots challenged by Padilla had a late postmark or did not arrive at the elections office by the March 12 deadline. Postal officials were asked to double check the mail dates and the actual delivery dates for each ballot, and these were reviewed by elections officials for the last time on May 1.


Three decades of journalism experience, as a writer and editor with Gannett, Knight-Ridder and Lee newspapers, as a business journal editor and publisher and as a weekly newspaper editor in Scotts Valley and Gilroy; with the Weeklys group since 2017. Recipient of several first-place writing and editing awards, California News Publishers Association.


  1. Two Covid tyrants.

    Evan Low authored the Orwellian AB2098 to punish doctors for medical advice to patients contrary to state government dogma. It was rescinded in the face of litigation which almost certainly would have resulted in a ruling that it was an unconstitutional infringement of speech.

    Liccardo authored San Jose City Council resolutions to bar the unjabbed and the unboosted from City Hall, the Shark Tank, the Rotary Summit Center and other city facilities. The booster mandate lasted barely a month, having been rescinded after the Sharks belatedly complained when they evidently realized it would cost them half their season ticket base.

    Both Liccardo and Low are sociopaths with demonstrably no respect for human rights.

  2. … saratoga sam and his tyrannic leftist council majority also mandated the jab for City Employees including Public Safety under threat of punishment up to and including termination.

  3. Low wastes govt resources on laws telling Target and other retailers how to sell and market their products. The absuditiy of this is not needed at the federal level. Retail is dealing with rampant crime and inflationary forces, and now have to worry if their toy department is triggering. Insane.

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