SOUTHERN Downs voters could find out who their new mayor is well before the sun comes up on Sunday - and possibly before midnight on Saturday.
Returning officer Garry Adcock was yesterday crossing his fingers for an early result, despite some candidates voicing concerns about a lack of vote-counting staff.
Mr Adcock, who will oversee the counting in the Warwick Town Hall from 6pm tomorrow, said he was confident his staff would be able to count sufficient mayoral votes on Saturday to give "at least a strong indication" of who is the frontrunner for the region's top job.
With a full postal ballot this election, Mr Adcock expects close to three-quarters of votes to have been received by today, with the rest able to come in next week.
Mayoral votes will be counted first, starting on Saturday night, and counting will continue on Sunday, with votes still able to be counted if they come in before Tuesday, May 8.
Mr Adcock yesterday would not put a time on when his polling staff would pull up stumps tomorrow night, saying they would make a call based on how their eyes were faring.
"If everything goes according to plan we are hopeful that we'll have a result for mayor on the night, or at the very least a good indication," he said.
"We'll knock off when we feel we're getting too tired and we'll probably start counting again around 8am on Sunday."
As of yesterday 12,000 out of about 23,000 votes issued had been returned, with Mr Adcock looking for between 4000 and 5000 more to come in today.
"If we get around the 5000 mark (today) then we'll have close to three-quarters of all votes issued," he said.
Votes can still be posted after Saturday, but the return envelope must be dated no later than today.
As reported earlier this week, up to 8% of votes returned as of last Friday had been rejected due to the flap on the return envelope containing voter details having been removed by some electors.
Mr Adcock said as a result of awareness being raised with those still to vote, this figure had dropped to about 3.5% as of yesterday.
Had the informal rate continued close to 2000 votes could have been declared null and void.