"In the last two elections, the provisionals did not change the outcome," she said. "But I don't know how many there are [this year]."
Provisional ballots, she said, can be ballots cast by people who vote at a different polling place than the one where they are registered; in-person ballots cast by people who are registered as mail-in voters, but fail to surrender their mail-in ballot at the polls; and ballots cast by people whose names have been mistakenly removed from the voting rolls.
The fifth-highest vote-getter, Planning Commissioner Barbara Delgleize, had 391 fewer votes than Shaw. Unless she or another candidate gets a surge through provisional ballots, Boardman, Carchio, Harper and Shaw will be the four winning candidates.
Boardman, who served on the council from 2000 to 2004 and is a former mayor, said she didn't expect the order to change.
"I am very gratified to be the top vote-getter," she said. "I was very surprised by that. It's always very hard to get a higher vote total than an incumbent, but we worked really hard and we had a lot of community support. So I'm very gratified and humbled."
Harper said he was still keeping an eye on the provisional ballots to see if Shaw or Delgleize triumphed, but he considered his own lead secure.
"I think a lot of voters responded to my record on the Huntington Beach Union High School District Board of Trustees," he said. "It's a conservative record. It's a thoughtful record."
Shaw said he was waiting for the final results to declare a victory, but didn't expect the remaining votes to change the field. He added that he was proud to be a possible winner, given his competition.