The hours and days following Tuesday's primary election have surely been enough to test the patience of anyone looking for quick answers.
Including the top vote-getters in the three races for Kern County supervisor.
David Couch and Leticia Perez, county supervisors vying for reelection in the 4th and 5th districts, respectively — and Phillip Peters, hoping to replace retiring 1st District Supervisor Mick Gleason — said they are encouraged by the election returns, but are not about to start popping Champagne corks just yet.
"I’m cautiously optimistic," Couch said in a text. "But with over 67,000 votes countywide yet to be counted, and with no idea how many of those are from the Fourth District, I’m not ready to take any victory laps yet."
Tens of thousands of provisional and mail-in ballots have yet to be counted in Kern County, and that makes claiming victory a risky endeavor for many candidates.
The latest numbers from the Kern County Elections Division show Couch with 5,206 votes, compared with challenger Emilio Huerta's 3,942 votes.
Supervisor candidates who garner more than 50 percent of the vote win outright and don't need to worry about competing in a runoff in the November general election. With nearly 57 percent of the votes counted so far, compared with Huerta's 43 percent, Couch is perfectly willing to wait.
"We just need to let the Elections Division do their job and get all the votes counted," Couch said. "Hopefully they can give us frequent updates."
Perez is in a similar position, but even stronger. The two-term supervisor is holding at 3,742 votes, or 57 percent. In contrast, the closest competitor, David Abbasi, has just 865 votes, about 13.2 percent of the total. Three more candidates split the remaining 30 percent of votes, meaning the likelihood is small that of any one of them can make a serious run at Perez at this juncture.
"I’m cautiously optimistic, but confident," Perez said. "More importantly, I'm completely humbled and grateful."
On Tuesday evening, she walked precincts, knocking on doors. Then, with one hour left before the polls closed, she made calls to "undecideds."
Perez has won twice before, but this election was different.
"It was a real moment of truth," she said.
Peters, who worked as Gleason’s district director for five years, faced off against former Kern County sheriff’s deputy Daures F. Stephens and cannabis farmer David J. Fluhart.
As of Thursday, Peters still held 14,735 votes, or 52.6 percent of ballots counted so far. Fluhart and Stephens trail with about 24.8 percent and 22.6 percent, respectively.
"I'm hoping we can stay at 52 percent, but you never know," Peters said, remaining cautious until elections officials are able to count the remaining ballots.
Like Perez, Peters' opponents have split the remaining votes.
"I think we have a pretty good start at holding onto the majority," he said. "But we don't want to take anything for granted."