Mahan Maintains Lead Despite Chavez Gains In SJ Mayoral Race

After six days of vote counting, San Jose City Councilmember Matt Mahan still leads in the race for mayor of San Jose, with a 3,631-vote margin, but his lead has narrowed for the third straight day, according to unofficial results reported Sunday.

As of 5:04pm Sunday, his tally stood at 1.78 percentage points above Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez.

The Sunday ballot count in the San Jose mayoral election showed Mahan with 103,241 votes,  or 50.89%. Chavez had 98,610 votes, or 49.11%.

Chavez still has an uphill battle to catch Mahan. She would have to increase her winning percentage of the next approximately 75,000 votes to 52.5%, or 5 points above Mahan, in order to wipe out his lead.

Because the county does not even estimate how many city vote-by-mail and provisional ballots are uncounted, it remained difficult Sunday to determine when a candidate could declare victory.

Applying the Nov. 13 countywide estimate of 73% to city of San Jose returns would mean there could be 75,000 votes outstanding; but that number could be off by thousands in either direction because the elections office doesn’t estimate which precincts are the source of the uncounted ballots.

Elections officials report the number of counted votes per candidate each day at approximately 5pm, and estimate the percentage of total ballots counted only on a county-wide basis, with no geographic breakdown. The office reported that 436,207 ballots were counted countywide as of Nov. 14, and estimated this represented 73% of the ballots expected.

The elections office said that beginning Nov. 14, the reports would come only every other day.

Based on Sunday evening estimates from the Registrar of Voters, approximately 161,000 ballots remain to be counted countywide, which means a degree of uncertainty remains for a number of races – especially the marquee matchup for mayor of the nation’s 10th largest city.

In the years since mail-in ballots became the predominant form of voting locally, the results from precinct votes have been accurate predictors of eventual outcomes.




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. It is disappointing that San Jose, in the heart of Silicon Valley, has such a backward system for casting and counting votes in local elections. My confidence in this election’s integrity is waning badly after 5 full days of waiting. In this day in age, it should be possible to have final results within 24 hours of polls closing. Please update the current system and bring it into the 21st Century. Many states serve as role models on how to achieve this. I am sure they would be glad to advise us on how. Any system, including voting systems, should always observe the KISS principle – Keep It Simple Stupid.

  2. Im shocked that EVERYONE including moderates backed Chavez and she isnt ahead…figured she’d campaign in those neighborhoods of the councilmembers who backed her (esp Dev Davis) and cut off any chance Mahan had to make inroads…but he was the one to campaign in her strongholds…he may nor may not win and I didn’t vote for him…but for a 39 year old to go toe to toe with a former vice mayor, head of bay area labor and president of the county supervisors and hold his own if not do better than her in the debates is damn impressive

  3. And now they found a stack of ballots on the side of 101. . Don’t know where it came from or how it got there. Probably just enough for Chavez to pull the hokey pokey.

  4. The voting system in CA is pathetic. The fact we don’t know who the Mayor is yet is mind boggling – and sending out mail-in ballots to millions of people without them requesting is a bad idea. It’s lazy.

  5. @SJC. Why would you be shocked? Assuming you live in San Jose. I personally have never seen this level of homeless ness. Such a high crime rate. And so many people with mental issues living on our streets. Sane people decided to vote against the career Politician who has been in office for over 15+ years. And under whose “leadership” things have gotten as bad as they are. Hopefully Matt Mahan will continue to lead and win. But even if he does. A Mayor’s responsibilities are primarily budgetary and facilitation. The city council members and other elected officials have meetings and decide what/where to build. Irene Smith and Johnny Khamis would have been great. But sadly, their career politician opponents won.

  6. Almost a week after Elections in California – and all you can do is laugh at the governance and bureaucracy that your tax dollars are supporting.
    Just remember you have less than 1 month to send your Property Tax payments to the county to ensure that your local government & services are run efficiently and you enjoy the clean and safe community environment that you are funding.

  7. The ROV estimate of total votes expected is based on their turnout estimate. It is likely ioff for a mid term election. Total votes received in the last contested mayor race in 2014 was 180,000 votes. Over 200,000 votes have already been counted in this race. No way it gets to 270k plus based on historical turnout in non-presidential election. Deadline for mail ballots is tomorrow, we’ll know then what the actual turnout was.

  8. Chavez rigged the County redistricting for Arenas, so Chavez has already won one election. For our sake, I hope she doesn’t win two.

  9. How do we not have a first class, start of the art tracking system (in the heart of Silicon Valley) where we show case the entire world how our voting works. This is an embarrassment… no geographical data, no hourly update input. And now the election mail has been found in Santa Cruz county and on the offshore of the highways??? What is going on. This is definitely contempt by the system. The USPS are investigating it but it sure seems like the paper trail leads back to them. Doesn’t make sense. Every vote counts!

  10. Please proclaim who us the winner based on the decision of the voters.

    Why is it taking too long??

    It is time to announce the mayor .. Silicon Valley should be very efficient to announce the name immediately and not holding it .

    Don’t let manipulation .

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