(CNN) - Anticipating a very close race, the Republican candidate in New York's special election has put the wheels in motion for a potential hand count of certain ballots in the already-contentious race.
Jane Corwin's campaign filed a petition Tuesday and received a court order impounding all paper ballots pending a court proceeding that will begin no sooner than Thursday. The order doesn't impact the tally of votes cast by machine, but does protect the estimated 3,808 paper absentee ballots that could be key if the results show a narrow margin for either candidate.
The move is "very standard and very typical in close races," said Chris Grant, Jane Corwin's campaign manager. "When you're dealing with a race of this importance and magnitude, it's very important to make sure every vote is properly and legally counted."
"It is certainly standard in New York. It's a pretty standard play that's in the playbook of most campaigns regardless of affiliation," said Dennis Vacco, the Corwin campaign attorney. Vacco explained that the order sets up a process so that representatives of both campaigns can be present for the counting, and allows for a structured way to file objections to any special ballot with the court. Vacco added, "It really does protect everybody" in the process.
When asked about the court order Kathy Hochul's spokesman Fabien Levy said, "We're focused on getting every one of our voters out to the polls before they close."
If either candidate emerges a clear winner as the results come in, the court order could and would be lifted quickly.
Jane Corwin has been in a neck-and-neck battle with Democratic candidate Kathy Hochul for the congressional seat vacated by Republican Chris Lee. Lee resigned earlier this year after a shirtless picture that he sent to a woman other than his wife turned up on the internet. The race in western New York has been in the national spotlight because Democrats have tried to make the election a referendum on House Republican support of a budget plan that would dramatically change Medicare. They see the contest as an early test of their election strategy for the 2012 congressional races - branding the House Republican budget plan as a liability for Republican candidates.
National Republican leaders disagree that the close race centers on the issue of Medicare. They attribute the competitive race to the inclusion of the third-party candidate Jack Davis. He's running on the Tea Party line and is drawing support from both sides. Republicans charge that Davis is siphoning much-needed votes from Corwin.
Polls close in New York's 26th congressional district at 9 p.m. Tuesday evening.