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How to follow the local election results tonight.

Lane County Elections will start reporting results after about 8:30 pm on their website.

The pivotal close races to watch are the Democrat Kitty Piercy v. Jim Torrey mayor showdown and the close race for the north Eugene Lane County commissioner seat between conservative Bobby Green and progressive Rob Handy.

The magic number for Piercy/Torrey may be 34,060. That’s 50 percent of those who voted in a city election in November 2004.

The magic number for Handy/Green may be 15,663. That’s 50 percent of those who voted in a contested county commissioner race in November 2004.

But the number of voters this year appears likely to be higher. Students say they have registered thousands of new voters at the UO. A high student turnout could help progressive Piercy.

Lane County reports a 2.5 percent increase in voter registrations compared to 2004. If turnout equals the 91 percent for the county in 2004, the Piercy/Torrey magic number could inflate to 34,898. The Handy/Green magic number could inflate to 16,048.

In May 2008, the county had counted about 60 percent of the votes in Eugene by 9 pm. Judging from May, late votes may favor progressives Piercy and Handy.

Piercy and Torrey were nearly even at 9 pm in May, but in the unofficial final results available the next day, Piercy was ahead by almost 800 votes or about 2 percent.

In May Handy lead Green by about 2 percent at 9 pm. In the unofficial final results the next day, Handy had a lead of about 4 percent.

Both races went to a runoff because no one had more than 50 percent.

Torrey and Handy may have a slight edge based on the May results.

If the 4 percent of voters who voted for two other conservative candidates in May had instead voted for conservative Torrey, he would have won with 51 percent.

If the 6 percent of voters who voted for two other candidates critical of Green in May had instead voted for Handy, Handy would have won with 55 percent.

Another factor for Piercy may be The Register-Guard. The paper inexplicably reversed its May endorsement of her to Torrey and has largely buried or not reported in depth news of Torrey’s huge contributions from gravel pit and development interests.