It seemed almost fitting that a skunk “let go” on Tuesday night just outside of the government center in Mariposa County where votes in the primary election were being counted.
Because of several issues, votes in Mariposa County were not tabulated until very late. It was 12:30 a.m. Wednesday when County Clerk Keith Williams handed out the unofficial results.
In the end, the most watched race in the county for the supervisor slot in District 3 turned out to be a fairly easy win for the incumbent.
Supervisor Marshall Long earned 58.76 percent of the vote in the race, meaning there will not be a runoff election in the fall. Long had 704 votes compared to his closest challenger Heather Bernikoff, who received 422 votes, or 35.23 percent.
Newcomer Jerry Cox, who is locked in a legal battle that has gained county-wide publicity, received just 72 votes, or 6 percent.
Bernikoff aggressively challenged Long, who won his second term, but came up short in the district which includes Catheys Valley, Mormon Bar, the airport area, Hornitos and a lot of the rural areas of western Mariposa County.
In the race for Judge of the Superior Court, incumbent Dana Walton was a runaway winner with 3,559 votes, or 78.15 percent. Challenger Ed Johnson had 995 votes, or 21.85 percent.
In the only other contested race, Vince Kehoe was a handy winner over Tony Amundson. Kehoe had 2,792 votes, or 66.46 percent while Amundson received 1,409 votes.
Unopposed candidates included Luis Mercado for auditor, Walter Wall for district attorney, County Superintendent of Schools Robin Hopper, Sheriff Doug Binnewies and Treasurer/Tax Collector Keith Williams.
Of those, Binnewies had the most votes with 4,085 while Williams had 4,012.
Williams emphasized the unofficial results are just that as provisional ballots and vote by mail ballots turned into the polls had yet to be counted. However, he also said there are not a lot of those ballots and it shouldn’t have any impact on the outcome.
Overall, 46.98 percent of registered voters in Mariposa County cast ballots. There were 4,955 total voters out of 10,547 who are registered.
Of those who voted, 3,413 were by mail ballot while 1,542 people voted on Tuesday at the polls.
By 2020, it’s possible Mariposa County will go to all mail-in ballots, depending on a decision from the Mariposa County Board of Supervisors.
Williams did say that one of the issues which held up the voting was the fact their were two pages of ballots. That meant double the work for the vote counting machines, which were located inside the chambers of the board of supervisors. Election workers went as fast as they could to get the ballots counted.
In addition, because of a printing error on the ballot, Williams said they did not count the mail-in ballots early, as they normally do during elections. The reason is election officials wanted to give all voters an opportunity to use the updated ballots, if that was their preference.
The error was in the race for U.S. Representative in the 4th District. Candidate Mitchell White, a Republican, was listed as a Democrat on the first printed ballots in Mariposa County. The county reprinted ballots, but not after the first ones were sent to county voters. That is why they reprinted ballots and gave voters the option.
All of that added up to delays on Tuesday night and was the reason for the late returns.
In another race of interest locally, incumbent Republican Tom McClintock gained the most votes in Mariposa County for his seat int he 4th Congressional District. It appeared early Wednesday morning that Democrat Jessica Morse would finish second in the expansive district, setting up a race between those two in November.
For complete returns, visit www.mariposacounty.org/DocumentCenter/View/65094.