As state elections officials announced each new batch of absentee ballots through the day Tuesday, incumbent U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski tiptoed closer to the lead challenger Joe Miller built last week on primary election day, but what she needed were big steps.
Then, late in the day, Miller won back some of the lead he'd lost, widening his margin of victory.
When State Election Director Gail Fenumiai announced the end of ballot counting, it was clear there were not enough outstanding ballots to give Murkowski a plausible chance of winning and she conceded the race.
Miller now leads by 1,630 votes, very nearly how he began the day. The current tally shows Miller with 50.8 percent of the vote, compared to 49.2 for Murkowski.
Among the additional precincts where absentees were counted Tuesday were those from Juneau and other Southeast Alaska communities, where Murkowski ran strongly, but also in the Mat-Su Borough, where Miller ran even more strongly than he did in his hometown of Fairbanks.
Absentee votes from Southeast were counted at the regional elections office in Juneau at the Mendenhall Mall.