At 2 a.m. today, as many candidates and supporters waited anxiously for results from the polls that had closed five hours earlier, the city office of elections quietly closed.
"It's better for us to close down when it got late and we only had partial figures than for us to give out incorrect figures," said Barbara E. Jackson, the city Elections Board administrator. "I felt it was better for us to do it this way than to just do it off the wall and give out something wrong."
Jackson, who has worked for the Election Board for 24 years, said problems with the return sheets from many precincts led to incomplete figures being returned to the elections office.
Some election figures in many races were released, she said. However, they were partial and unofficial. The final official tally will be released tomorrow.
Jackson said the return sheets, which indicate the number of votes each candidate received, were returned only partially completed for three reasons:
*Lack of knowledge of the election procedure by many of the 2,300 election judges.
*Problems with the print packs containing the results.
*A combination of the first two.
Election officials who had returned to their offices early today had finished at least one unofficial counting, that of the District 43 state Senate race, where incumbent John A. Pica Jr. trailed challenger Martin O'Malley by five votes, pending the counting of absentee ballots tomorrow.