BERNARDS TWP., NJ _ With votes still likely to be counted into next week, the differential between the number of votes for Bernards Township Committee candidates Joan B. Harris, a Democrat, and Republican John Surano had shrunk to nine as of shortly after 6 p.m. on Thursday, the Somerset County election website was reporting as its latest tally.

As with the first results posted on the website on Tuesday, election night, Surano remained ahead of Harris with 6,155 votes.

However, Harris' vote count had risen to 6,146 votes at that time. The same results were posted on the Somerset County website as of Friday evening.

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"When the Republicans came looking for a concession on Tuesday we knew the count was far from done," Harris said in an email on Thursday evening. "We had a very organized team behind us." She said that votes by mail were continuing to come in.

Nancy D'Andrea, chair of the Bernards Democratic Committee, said on Tuesday that the Democrats would not concede at that time.

However, Rich Bianchi, Bernards Township Republican Committee chair, on Friday said that no concession had been asked and that there was a miscommunication when he called the Democratic committee on Tuesday night to ask for results in one district before all the votes were in.

Bianchi said that he and the Republican candidates were well aware at that time that, although their vote count was ahead, that there were many mail-in, provisional and other ballots to still be counted. He noted the candidates themselves had spoken that night about how the vote count was not final.

At the week's end, Republican Joe Esposito remained top votegetter with 6,204 votes. Democrat Mascia's vote count was 5,887 in the election results reported for the four candidates seeking two three-year terms on the Bernards Township Committee.

The vote gap between Harris and Surano has narrowed daily starting from Tuesday night. At that time, the Somerset County election website reported that Esposito received 5,361 votes and Surano received 5,332 votes at township polling booths.

Results posted on Tuesday night, with all absentee, additional mail-in votes and provisional ballots still uncounted, showed Harris received 4,842 votes at the polls and Mascia received 4,616 votes as of that time.

Officials said previously that the final counting of votes, including mail-in votes and provisionals that require individual attention because they may not have been filed with an exact name match, for example, could continue through next Tuesday, Nov. 13.

Harris said that the Democrats had a strong team within the Bernards Township Democratic Committee and many other volunteers, "including many new faces this year, who worked tirelessly for the past several months. Whatever the result may be, two things are certain: we are humbled and grateful for all our volunteers and supporters."