Requestor behind District 16 race recount won't be reimbursed

In a cramped, cubicle-filled room inside the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters on Tuesday, the painstaking task of a rarely seen recount was done under the gaze of onlookers.

Representatives for Assemblyman Evan Low and Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian challenged any irregularities.

"The votes have been counted. They’re now being recounted. In relatively short order, we’ll have a final count, a final recount/ And until then, you just wait and watch and hope for the best," said Simitian.

Seven days since the start of the recount, and he is now ahead of Low by one vote in Santa Clara County.

"There are always ballots that are set aside because something can’t be verified. And now with the recount, we’re going back and looking at all of those," said San Jose State University political scientist Dr. Melinda Jackson.

San Mateo County officials are performing a similar task in the congressional district race that spans the two counties.

"The current recount is going really well. We are progressing quickly. And we’re doing our best to make sure everything is done properly," said Steve Goltiao, a spokesman for the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters.

He said that his registrar appealed to the California Secretary of State over the issue of reimbursement for the cost of the recount. Former Liccardo campaign staffer Jonathan Padilla has been paying an estimated $32,000 per day, only to learn he won’t get reimbursed.

Goltiao said that is because of a provision in the election code 15624.

Jackson elaborated, "If the recount drops someone off the ballot, no reimbursement. Because it’s not the same as adding a new person to the ballot, based on the results of the recount."

She added, "It’s a technical difference, but obviously there's a lot of money at stake. Again, no one has ever seen anything like this before."

As it stands, frontrunner Sam Liccardo, Simitian, and Low are all headed for a political collision in November. But a single vote could break the tie for second place and leave either Simitian or Low on the outs.

"When the law was written, it wasn’t anticipated that there would be a recount in a case like this, where there’s a tie, for a second," said Jackson.

Santa Clara County officials said the recount could wrap up Friday, at which point they’ll certify the results and send those results to the Secretary of State for a stamp of approval. San Mateo County will do the same when they complete their recount.

The end of the recount may not mean the end of this issue. A complaint was filed Friday with the Federal Election Commission over the financing behind the recall, which could ultimately land this part of the issue in court.

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