As we discussed back in March, you are not seeing double. Your ballot is not incorrect. Alex Padilla does not have a doppelganger.
Padilla is running in two separate U.S. Senate races at the same time. This is so confusing that the Secretary of State has issued a two-page memo detailing how the counties’ should explain the situation on the ballots they issue. And all of this to serve just one month in the U.S. Senate.
On your General Election ballot, there are two races for California’s junior U.S. Senate seat: one for the new term starting in 2024 and one to fill the vacancy in the existing term ending in 2024. The vacancy occurred when then-U.S. Senator Kamala Harris was elected Vice President and Padilla was appointed to fill the seat.
At the June Primary Election, the two races were listed on the ballot and Padilla received the most votes in both races. Padilla is expected to easily win both races in November.
Where this gets interesting (or ludicrous): Padilla, or whoever wins the race to fill the vacancy, will only serve for one month. Here’s the timeline: the winner will be confirmed a few weeks after the November election, once the race has been certified by the Secretary of State, which is approximately December 8. The term ends on January 3, 2023.
This may be an example of why the voters think the election process is nutty.