Pima County will be waiting until at least late today - and possibly until Saturday - to find out the winners of some closely contested races because more than 35,000 ballots could remain uncounted as of this morning.

Pima County has often been the state laggard getting votes counted on past election days, but this year could be the worst yet. County Elections Director Brad Nelson said one in four ballots cast Tuesday were early ballots hand-delivered to the polls. Because the Pima County recorder must verify signatures, those votes can't be counted on Election Day.

The county hopes to have early ballots counted by Friday. An undetermined number of provisional ballots will take at least until Saturday.

County Registrar of Voters Chris Roads said there are likely to be between 20,000 and 30,000 uncounted early ballots, and a worst-case scenario could be more than 35,000 because there were 9,000 ballots turned in before Election Day that Nelson's office has yet to count.

Contact reporter Rob O'Dell at 573-4346 or rodell@azstarnet.com