THE fight for the federal 'bellwether' seat of Eden-Monaro is a cliffhanger with only a handful of votes likely to decide the outcome.
But whether Labor incumbent Mike Kelly or Liberal challenger Peter Hendy emerges victorious will not be known for several days, possibly not until Friday of next week.
They are running neck and neck with Mr Hendy trending slightly ahead with a two candidate preferred vote a touch above 50 per cent. Dr Kelly is just below 50 per cent.
At this stage, it represents a swing to the Liberals of 4.4 per cent in a seat held by Dr Kelly with a margin of only 4.2 per cent.
The lead has changed hands several times and even declared 'won' on Saturday night by the TV pundits, in favour of Dr Kelly.
Postal and pre-poll votes, perhaps as many as 8,000, have yet to be counted.
Mr Hendy is polling at 45 per cent of first preference votes while Dr Kelly has gained about 39 cent.
Greens candidate Catherine Moore suffered a swing against her of 2.46 percent on first preferences, while newcomer and Cooma mayor Dean Lynch of the Palmer United Party was polling 5.39 per cent.
Independent Andrew Thaler, of Nimmitabel, polled 1.24 per cent, or 940 first preference votes.
Late yesterday (Monday) both Dr Kelly and Mr Hendy were saying the result was too close to call.
The flow of preferences will be vital in coming days, particularly those of Mr Lynch, which scrutineers report are flowing at about 50-50. However, his how-to-vote cards were not available for those casting postal votes, and their preferences could be crucial to the outcome.
Mr Lynch described his result as "fantastic" although he was glad, on Monday, to be back on the farm.
However, he said the Palmer United Party was only formed a few weeks ago and he was therefore very pleased with the size of the national and local vote.
From his point of view, the election was about providing an alternative, making a stand, and promoting regional Australia.
An early examination of the voting by booths shows that the Liberal's Peter Hendy polled strongly in Cooma, Numeralla and Jindabyne, while Dr Kelly polled well in Perisher and Thredbo,
Whoever wins, Eden-Monaro will no longer be represented in the federal Cabinet or Ministry, after Tony Abbott's emphatic win.
Dr Kelly was Minister for Defence Materiel and had been nominated by Kevin Rudd as the next Defence Minister.
Mr Hendy, as a newcomer, will be a backbencher if he wins, with no prospect of promotion for several years.