People sitting at a table in the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters office on Election Day
Santa Clara County election workers at the Register of Voters office on March 5, 2024. Photo by Lorraine Gabbert.

After a frenzied election season, voters across Silicon Valley are heading to polls today to cast their vote in races up and down the ballot that will reshape the region.

From who to send to Congress to the political makeup of the San Jose City Council, voters face many tough choices. And with a truncated timeframe for this year’s March 5 primary, candidates scrambled the last few weeks to secure support and bolster voter turnout for what is historically a lower-turnout primary.

Elections officials said they expect 35% to 45% voter turnout. As of yesterday, that number stood at 16%.

“Compared to other primaries, it’s an average estimate,” Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters spokesman Michael Borja told San José Spotlight Tuesday morning. “In the statewide primary I believe it was around 30%.”

In Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, voters will choose a new congressmember for the first time in more than two decades. The field of 11 contenders vying to replace retiring Rep. Anna Eshoo in Congressional District 16 is stiff. A handful of candidates have emerged as early front-runners: County Supervisor Joe Simitian, former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, Marine veteran Peter Dixon and Assemblymember Evan Low.

Once polls close, follow live election results in Congressional District 16 (and other U.S. House races in California) below. 

Six candidates are running to replace Low in Assembly District 26, including Patrick Ahrens, Tara Sreekrishnan and Omar Din.

San Jose voters will choose representatives in city council districts 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10. Two of those seats are open races: District 2, which spans Edenvale and Seven Trees (candidates include Babu Prasad, Vanessa Sandoval, Pamela Campos, and Joe Lopez), and District 6, which encompasses the Rose Garden and Willow Glen (candidates include Olivia Navarro, Alex Shoor, Angelo Pasciuti, and Michael Mulcahy). Councilmembers David CohenDomingo Candelas and Arjun Batra are fending off reelection challengers in Districts 4, 8 and 10, respectively. San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan is poised to win reelection against a widely unknown challenger.

Related: Find out what city council district you live in here.

Voters will elect new faces to the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors in District 2 (candidates include Betty Duong, Madison Nguyen, Corina Herrera-Loera, Jennifer Celaya and Nelson McElmurry) and District 5 (candidates include Margaret Abe-KogaSally Lieber, Peter Fung and Barry Chang). District 3 Supervisor Otto Lee is facing no reelection challenger.

Polls open in Santa Clara County at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. You can find a vote center using San José Spotlight’s interactive map below or visiting the county’s website.

Find a ballot drop-off location.

11 p.m. Early election results posted

With early results including a voter turnout of about 17.8%, election officials released the last round of results at 10:20 p.m. Tuesday. The Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters is expecting turnout for this primary election to land at about 35% to 45%, officials said Tuesday. The next update will be 5 p.m. Wednesday on the county’s website.

Click on the stories below for a look at who is leading each race:

8 p.m. Polls close, Liccardo and Simitian lead Congressional District 16 race

As of 8:10 p.m. on Tuesday, former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo led the pack of 11 candidates with 22.8% of the vote. He is trailed by Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian who secured 18.9% of the vote and Assemblymember Evan Low who netted 16.3% of the vote.

Read more here.

Former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo is leading the race for Congress. He appeared at his election night party on Tuesday with his wife. Photo by Jana Kadah.

7:30 p.m. Labor leaders gather for election party

From candidates to union leaders and political insiders, dozens gathered Tuesday night at the South Bay Labor Council’s election party. The group is one of the most formidable political forces in town, using its vast membership to raise money and awareness for labor-friendly candidates.

A parade of candidates stopped by — to see each other and to be seen. Some included Assembly candidate Patrick Ahrens, supervisorial candidates Margaret Abe-Koga and Betty Duong, and congressional candidate and Assemblymember Evan Low.

Assemblymember Ash Kalra, who is seeking reelection this year, said the election’s remarkably low voter turnout has politicos concerned. He hopes Silicon Valley’s labor movement continues to shore up its base.

Assemblymember Ash Kalra spoke at the South Bay Labor Council’s gathering on Tuesday night. Photo by Lorraine Gabbert.

“In a low turnout you can elevate your base,” he said.

The attendees dined on eggrolls as they socialized and rubbed elbows, surrounded by colorful balloons and upbeat music.

6 p.m. Voter turnout ticks up

Steve Goltiao, spokesperson for the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters, said the office last updated its voter turnout numbers around 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.

“So far, we have counted 209,124 ballots, for a turnout of 20.47%,” Goltiao told San José Spotlight. Just under 1,025,000 voters are registered for this election, according to the elections office.

Overall, Goltiao said the office is predicting a turnout of roughly 35% to 45% of voters for this primary election, with “a large majority of those ballots” coming in Tuesday in the form of vote by mail ballots, polling center ballots and ballots dropped off at voting boxes around the region.

The elections office will accept ballots that are postmarked by Tuesday as long as they make it to the office by March 12. Goltiao said that amount of time accounts for any ballots that are slightly delayed in the mail, as well as any that are coming in from overseas.

2 p.m. Congressional candidate gets out the vote

Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian, a leading candidate in the Congressional District 16 race, spent the afternoon campaigning alongside supporters in front of Bell’s Books in Palo Alto.

Supporters chanted, “when I say go, you say Joe” as they clutched campaign signs and lined the sidewalks in front of the independent family-owned business.

Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian, a candidate for Congressional District 16, canvassed with supporters in Palo Alto on Tuesday. Photo by Lorraine Gabbert.

Simitian shook hands, thanked supporters and took plenty of selfies.

“We wanted to be out on the street saying hi and reminding folks today is the day,” Simitian told the crowd. “This is a soft get out the vote effort.”

Menlo Park resident Irwin Sobel, 83, shook Joe Simitian’s hand on Tuesday, assuring the county supervisor that he voted for him for Congress. Photo by Lorraine Gabbert.

Menlo Park resident Irwin Sobel took the chance to meet Simitian at the sidewalk canvassing effort Tuesday — and assure the veteran politician that he’s earned his vote.

“I’ve been watching him for years,” Sobel, 83, said. “He did good things for Stanford.”

Simitian, a South Bay and Peninsula political stalwart with 40 years of experience, told San José Spotlight that his run for Congress is all about improving people’s lives.

Simitian’s closest competitor — former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo — shared photos on social media of his campaign’s “final” house party with supporters in Los Altos before Election Day and urging followers to vote.

Former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, a candidate for Congressional District 16, met with supporters in Los Altos. Photo courtesy of Sam Liccardo campaign.

Meanwhile, Congressional District 16 candidate Julie Lythcott-Haims kicked off Election Day with her mom — and a bright manicure and pedicure for good luck. The Palo Alto councilmember said it’s the way to start the day right.


Congressional candidate Peter Dixon headed to the polls early on Tuesday with his two daughters and wife at his side. He spent the rest of the day visiting knocking on doors to get out the vote.

Congressional candidate Peter Dixon cast with his daughters and wife at his side. Photo courtesy of Peter Dixon campaign.

Another contender in the Congressional District 16 race is former Saratoga Mayor Rishi Kumar. He unsuccessfully challenged Eshoo two years ago and garnered 42% of the vote.

On Tuesday, he told voters that his campaign spent $1.7 million on voter outreach — using individual donations and without taking a penny from PACs or special interests.

“My campaign is built on grassroots activism and powered by the herculean efforts of an army of volunteers that includes over 2,000 student interns,” Kumar said Tuesday. “We’re blessed to have them with us on this journey. Together we’ve knocked on over 150,000 doors in the district, a singular example of the spirit of civic engagement that defines us. ”

Congressional candidate Rishi Kumar dropped off his ballot on Tuesday and spent the day canvassing with volunteers, Photo courtesy of Rishi Kumar campaign.

11:30 a.m. Slow voting in East San Jose

At the Mayfair Community Center in East San Jose, voter turnout was scarce and underwhelming by mid morning.

Poll workers said only one person had voted that morning.

East San Jose leaders last week said their neighborhoods face a shortage of voting locations for the primary election — a problem worsened by language and transportation barriers. There are almost twice as many places to vote in more affluent neighborhoods, they said, than in District 8 which has a council seat up for grabs. County officials said it’s too late to add more voting centers for the primary, but will consider the feedback in November.

Jorge Vargas was a lone voter at the Mayfair site on Tuesday. Braving the cold wind, he said his goal is ensuring Joe Biden wins reelection as president. The 61-year-old East San Jose resident is most worried about affordable housing and the lack of mental health care in Silicon Valley.

East San Jose resident and voter Jorge Vargas, 61, braved the cold snap to vote Tuesday at the Mayfair Community Center. Photo by Lorraine Gabbert.

Borja, the spokesman for the county elections office, said his team has prioritized voter outreach across San Jose’s minority communities — including sending mailers, notification cards and ads in multiple languages.

“We try our best to educate people. We update our social media and also we started podcasts as well to educate voters,” he told San José Spotlight. “We have very valuable information for voters on those different wide spectrum of platforms.”

9 a.m. Voters flock to the polls

A handful of voters gathered at the county’s main elections office on Berger Drive as polls opened Tuesday morning.

San Josean Daniel Fernandez, 65, is one of those voters. He said his motivation to vote is the troubling rise in racism in America. His grandparents were farmers who came from Mexico and earned a living picking grapes in Madera. His father built a better life for his family though education, coming to Silicon Valley in the 1960s to work in tech.

San Jose resident Daniel Fernandez was among the first to vote Tuesday at the county’s elections office. Photo by Lorraine Gabbert.

“We learned respect for each individual. It doesn’t make a difference what race you are,” he said. “We’re all Americans and have opinions. They may be different, but at the end of the day we need to compromise and decide what’s best for America.”

Dolores Pioli, 70, also a San Jose resident, said her biggest concerns this election season are immigration and economy.

“I’d like for (politicians) to close the border and have absolutely no illegal immigration,” she said. “I would like to see the economy go forward. With the price of homes, groceries and PG&E increasing, the cost-of-living is extremely high for everyone.”

Every registered voter in Santa Clara County receives a mailed ballot, with an estimated 70-80% voting by mail ahead of election day. Some of those voters include candidates themselves — Simitian, Mahan, Batra, Duong and Nguyen voted ahead of Election Day, among others.

Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian, a candidate for Congressional District 16, cast his ballot this weekend. Photo courtesy of Simitian campaign.
Supervisorial candidate Betty Duong is pictured here voting. Photo courtesy of Betty Duong campaign.
Supervisorial candidate Madison Nguyen is pictured here voting. Photo courtesy of Nguyen campaign.
An elected official sits at a table and completes his ballot while a campaign sign appears behind him,
San Jose Councilmember Arjun Batra cast his ballot and dropped it off at the Almaden Community Center earlier this week. Photo courtesy of Batra campaign.

Mahan used the opportunity to educate his kids on the importance of voting, the mayor said on social media Sunday.

Related: Follow the latest campaign finances.

Follow our LIVE BLOG and social media channels all day for the latest election results, updates and analysis. 

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