Low, Simitian in virtual tie for 2nd place in South Bay congressional seat race

The seemingly endless counting of ballots from the March Primary continued Wednesday at the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters.

Tabulations released late in the day reveal just one vote separates Assemblyman Evan Low from Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian.

The second-place finisher advances to the general election against Sam Liccardo, in November.

Steve Goltiao, a spokesperson for the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters when asked if he’d ever seen such a close contest, said, "Uh, yeah, in November of 2022 there was a race in Sunnyale where there actually was a one or two vote difference."

That election contest, between Jason Wong and Murali Srinivasan for the 3rd District seat on the Sunnyvale city council ended in a tie after two recounts. 

The city election code called for pulling lots to determine the winner. Carnahan put both candidate’s names into a bag, shook it, and pulled out the winner. 

"Well, I certainly wanted to make sure I only drew one envelope and not two. That would have been embarrassing. But as the election’s official, it’s an important part to resolve whatever needs to be done in an election. And so maybe it was a little bit nerve-racking, but I was confident we had a fair process," said Carnahan. 

As the process for certification of all ballots moves toward an April 4 deadline, officials in both counties said for this election, like all elections, it’s always critical for those eligible to vote to do so.

"Every vote matters. Every vote counts. So even if someone will think, oh my vote doesn’t matter, it does. It can come down to one vote," said Goltiao.  

Once the ballots are certified, local election officials said they’ll be sent to California Secretary of State Shirley Weber, Ph.D. She will certify the returns. If there’s a tie, Weber will break the tie, by drawing lots, similar to the process that was used in Sunnyvale two years ago.

Jesse Gary is a reporter based in the station's South Bay bureau. Follow him on X (formerly Twitter), @JesseKTVU and on Instagram, @jessegontv