NEW ORLEANS -- As the lights shine on the Crescent City Connection, voting officials are processing the last crucial votes that will determine the fate of its tolls.
By the 8 p.m. extended deadline, 32 military and overseas voters cast ballots in Orleans Parish. In Jefferson Parish, that number was three.
They're votes that in an extremely tight race could tip the scales.
"Every vote counts," said Dennis DiMarco of the Jefferson Parish Registrar of Voters. "I don't care what election it is. People say it doesn't matter. Well this is a prime case where eight votes could affect whether tolls are extinguished or continue for many many years."
We could know whether tolls will be extended by Saturday. That's when Orleans Parish election officials will count last-minute military votes. Jefferson Parish will count those votes Friday the same day they're allowed to open voting machines.
"Due to the storms on the east coast, the timeline was extended for the military and those persons living abroad," said Dr. Sandra Wilson, of the Orleans Parish Registrar of Voters.
But in a race that has sparked passions on both sides, there are already murmurs of a possible recount.
State Rep. Pat Connick, an opponent of the toll extension, says his biggest concern is the hand-counted ballots. He hopes the clerks of court will volunteer to recount them.
Others question why Orleans election officials took hours longer than surrounding parishes to count early votes Tuesday night.
"Historically, Orleans has always been kind of behind other parishes, but that's because we have so many places for the commissioners to bring in their ballots to. We have 366 precincts. That's more than any other parish," said Orleans Parish Criminal Court Clerk Arthur Morrell.
Now, whether the CCC sees 20 more years of tolls could ultimately be determined by a just handful of votes.
So why wait until Saturday to count military ballots? The clerk of court's office says it's the same day they're allowed to count provisional ballots, and they want to do both at the same time. In fact, the deadline for the final count is Tuesday.