Latest Ballot Count Shows Simitian ahead of Low by 5 Votes in 16th District

This report was updated at 5pm April 1.

The "curing" of unsigned ballots continued at a snail's pace in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties today, leaving Joe Simitian five votes ahead of Evan Low in the battle for the runner-up position in the 16th Congressional District with one day left in the ballot count.

Former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo held a comfortable 8,200-vote lead for the top spot on the November ballot, and has already begun piling up new endorsements and campaign cash in preparation for an eight-month campaign.

Earlier in the week, Simitian, a Santa Clara County Supervisor, had led  Low, a State Assembly member, by a single vote, after Low had led by two votes in the seesaw battle.

Of the more than 180,000 votes cast in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties for candidates for the 16th Congressional District, about 1% were mailed ballots that were missing signatures.

The eventual winner of the race for second place will be decided by how many of the voters who mailed in unsigned ballots show up before 5pm April 2 to sign their ballots. As of April 1, about 1,000 unsigned ballots remained in the two-county district.

California is one of 30 states that require election officials to contact voters who have sent in an unsigned ballot and give them a chance to correct signature errors through a process called “ballot curing.” Once election officials match valid identification with the signature, the ballot gets counted.

That process is underway in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties.Throughout the count, Simitian held a solid lead lead in San Mateo County, and Lowe held a similar lead in Santa Clara County. Overall, about 78% of 16th District votes came from Santa Clara County.

Liccardo, Low and Simitian had separated themselves from the rest of the 11-person field from the start of the ballot-counting process.

Simitian led throughout the first week after the March 5 Primary Election by as many as 1,500 votes, but by the end of the first week Low’s total surged past Simitian by 63 votes. Then two days later Simitian was back in the lead, by 44 votes, a margin that dwindled as the ballot counting continued last week.

Math and geography last week tilted slightly in Simitian’s favor as the ballot counting advanced. Multiple variables were competing to confound the odds makers.


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.

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