Last chance. California US House election may end in unlikely second-place tie.

The San Jose, California, area — With over 180,000 ballots cast, a statistically implausible outcome has emerged in a California U.S. House race: a dead heat for second place.

According to the calculations, a third candidate would have to be added to the November ballot in order to accommodate the state's "top two" election method, which appears to be a first for a House contest in the state. "This is a fantastically unlikely outcome," remarked Paul Mitchell of Political Data Inc., a research organization that meticulously followed voting trends.  

Eleven people vied for the seat being left vacant by the retirement of Democratic Representative Anna Eshoo in the predominantly Democratic 16th District, which is located south of San Francisco, in the primary that was held on March 5. No matter their party affiliation, all candidates in California's primary elections appear on the same ballot, and only the top two vote-getters move on to the general.  

After all ballots were tabulated, former San Jose mayor Sam Liccardo, a Democrat, secured the top spot, according to unofficial findings. Joe Simitian, supervisor of Santa Clara County, and Evan Low, member of the state assembly, were tied for second place with 30,249 votes apiece.  

The results must be certified by April 12 by Secretary of State Shirley Weber, who is responsible for overseeing elections. Because three Democrats are on track to run for office in November, the race will not affect the outcome of the closely divided House, which will be determined in swing districts where candidates from both parties are vying for support.  

On Wednesday, after a few days of fluctuating totals, Low and Simitian finally settled into a tie—"It's a special 'Tie' day!" At the time, Low tweeted a photo of himself wearing a multicolored necktie.  

Because the outcome is still up in the air weeks after the election, the race serves as a sobering reminder of how painfully slowly the state's votes are counted. Given that whoever seeks a recount is responsible for covering its costs—which are expected to exceed $300,000 for a second count—it appears highly improbable that any of the campaigns will do so.

With a new electorate casting ballots in November, a three-way race would see "a total reset," as Mitchell put it. "It's highly improbable that this would occur," he stated.  

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