Updated Wednesday evening with latest count.
(CNN) - Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens’ lead over Democratic challenger Mark Begich disappeared late Wednesday, with thousands of votes yet to be counted.
Stevens began the day with a lead of more than 3,200 votes, but as the state continued its count of at least 90,000 outstanding votes -– a total that includes early votes, absentee votes and disputed ballots - the state’s Division of Elections reported that the incumbent Republican had 125,016 votes, and Begich had 125,019.
Around a third of those ballots had yet to be counted, in a process that is expected to continue into next week.
Alaska has no provision for a runoff if no candidate gets at least 50 percent of the vote; whoever gets the most votes wins.
Defeated candidates may ask for recounts.
If the difference between them ends up within 20 votes, or less than one-half of 1 percent, the state would bear the cost of the recount.
Stevens, convicted in October for filing false statements on Senate financial disclosure forms, has said he will fight the verdict.
If he emerges as the winner, he would be sworn in to his new term in early January despite the conviction. A two-thirds vote of the Senate would be required to expel him.
It's not clear when an expulsion vote might happen. The Senate Ethics Committee won't say if it has started an investigation of Stevens but has made clear it will not necessarily wait for the appeals process before acting.
Even if Stevens' conviction is overturned on appeal, the Ethics Committee could recommend, and the full Senate could vote on, his expulsion. That's because the Senate could still decide his actions were not appropriate for a senator, even if he was not found guilty in court.