By Beth Germano

BOSTON (CBS) – Bleary-eyed election workers were counting votes well into the night at Boston City Hall, making it a frustrating wait for results, especially with a tight race for the second spot on the mayoral ballot.

“We had a large number of ballots received close to 8 p.m., so there wasn’t enough time to send them to precincts; they had to be held back here (city hall),” said Boston Elections Commissioner Eneida Tavares.

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That’s because, for the first time in a municipal election, voters could cast ballots in person, by mail or put them in one of 22 drop boxes in the city – and they could do that right up until the polls close. At City Hall 7,000 ballots alone, mailed or dropped, trickled in and had to be cross-referenced by hand.

“That’s 7,000 ballots that had to be sorted by ward and precinct, scanned and checked to make sure that person hadn’t voted already,” said William Galvin, Massachusetts Secretary of State.

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City Council President Pro Tempore Matt O’Malley said it’s a good tradeoff. “Increased opportunities for folks to vote and recognize we get our results a little later, I think that’s a good tradeoff.”

O’Malley said it’s a new normal approved by the state amid the pandemic, but the process will now be reviewed for any possible changes. “You could drop off the ballot until 8 last night, but maybe there’s an opportunity to tighten the timeline for dropping off ballots,” said O’Malley.

In one of the most anticipated elections the city has seen, the wait may have been agonizing, but it didn’t prevent Michelle Wu and Annissa Essaibi George from declaring victory before the final tally.

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“Twelve hours to have a final result to believe and trust, that’s not asking too much. I wish it was faster, but it was a close election,” said Galvin.

Beth Germano