Election workers look through boxes of ballots at the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters during a recount effort
The Santa Clara County Democratic Central Committee voted unanimously on a resolution demanding the identities of donors behind an unknown super PAC that paid for the Congressional District 16 recount be disclosed. File photo.

The recount to replace Rep. Anna Eshoo’s congressional seat is coming to a close, but it will still be days before results are finalized.

Santa Clara County, which represents 80% of Congressional District 16, is almost done rescanning all of its ballots. San Mateo County completed its rescanning on Wednesday. Still, dozens of challenged ballots are awaiting review to see if they’ll be added to the final count.

On April 15, Santa Clara and San Mateo counties started recounting the more than 182,000 votes cast, and it will likely be another week until the count is complete. Former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo secured first place early on, but after nearly a month of see-sawing between razor-thin margins, Assemblymember Evan Low and Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian tied for second place. So, all three advanced to the November runoff.

With no automatic recount provision in statewide and federal elections in California, Jonathan Padilla, a 2020 and 2024 Biden delegate and former mayoral campaign staffer for Liccardo, requested a recount. He has been paying the $24,000 a day for the recount through a super PAC called Count the Vote — founded by people who are also linked to Liccardo.

As of Wednesday evening, Simitian and Low secured the same exact number of votes in San Mateo’s rescanning, but there are 16 ballots being challenged, according to Assistant Chief Elections Officer Jim Irizarry.

“The primary issues are postmarks — were they mailed on time, and if they were received within a seven-day grace period?” Irizarry told San José Spotlight. “So we’re going to USPS to verify when those ballots, from their records, show they got here.”

It’s unclear if those 16 challenged ballots could change the election results because the envelopes have yet to be opened, Irizarry said.  Campaign attorneys and observers have challenged 12 other ballots, noting the signatures on the ballots should count, but San Mateo County rejected them because officials said the signatures don’t match.

In Santa Clara County, 185 of its 199 precincts are completed. On Thursday morning, county election workers continued sifting through the remaining ballots to ensure every vote is counted. Michael Borja, spokesperson for the Registrar of Voters, said the recount may be completed early next week.

Borja couldn’t provide a specific number of how many ballots have been challenged.

As of Tuesday’s count, both Simitian and Low gained six votes through the recount process — which means the two are still tied. However, it takes only one vote in favor of either candidate to change the result and only send two candidates to the runoff, as opposed to three.

“It’s going to continue to flip flop because (the recount) is not complete,” Borja told San José Spotlight. “There’s many layers of this process, there are ballots being challenged… so I can’t give you a definite answer (on when it will be completed).”

Santa Clara County will provide another update on Thursday evening.

Contact Jana at [email protected] or follow @Jana_Kadah on X, formerly known as Twitter.

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