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Long Night Ahead 

The crucial role of the absentee ballots in the city's mayoral race.

City election officials say that earlier problems with slow-moving precinct counts are being resolved. But it still promises to be a long night. Workers started counting the more than 12,000 absentee ballots after the polls closed at 7 p.m. Some of the ballots were read by machine, but workers had to count others by hand.

The absentee ballots are especially crucial in the mayoral race, with districts 3 and 5 coming in tight. They could make the difference between a Mayor Dwight Jones, who just stepped into his party at the Paradise Lounge, or a Mayor Bill Pantele, who addressed his supporters earlier tonight about the close results.

Because of the way votes are trending, it looks highly unlikely there will be a runoff. Mayoral candidate Robert Grey doesn't seem to be a serious threat to Pantele or Jones.

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