THE knife-edged contest in Fairfax may hang on the distribution of 730 provisional votes.
Last night Palmer United Party leader Clive Palmer was 1132 votes ahead of the LNP's Ted O'Brien, a margin which will tighten considerably today with returning officers expected to count 2000 postal votes ahead of the weekend.
Mr Palmer commands 50.75% of the vote to Mr O'Brien's 49.25%.
On current trends Mr O'Brien can expect to add some 1259 of those to his total, cutting Mr Palmer's lead to around 614 .
Projections based on current trends suggest Mr Palmer would finish around 299 votes ahead of Mr O'Brien once all absentee, pre-poll and postal ballots are in.
The status of the 730 provisional votes and how they split between the two candidates may ultimately decide the contest.
A provisional vote is cast when an elector's name cannot be found on the certified list or is already marked off as having voted.
Provisional votes are not entered into the count until evidence of identity has been provided and a check of entitlement completed either at the polling place or by close of business on the first Friday after election day.
Outstanding postal votes will also be a factor with the cut off for their receipt set at September 20 and 1245 remaining outstanding.
Mr Palmer was not optimistic about his chances yesterday, believing he will be cruelled by a trend-defying packet of ballots. He predicts he will lose by around 200 votes.
Strong postal vote support yesterday morning saw Mr O'Brien continue a trend established Wednesday that gradually narrowed the gap he was behind Mr Palmer to just 1050 at lunch time.
However by the close of counting of 900 absentee votes last night Mr Palmer had again widened the margin to 1132.
There are currently around 9000 votes still to be counted.
Mr Palmer is likely to gain an additional 319 over Mr O'Brien from the remaining 2105 absentee votes with those votes flowing to him at the rate of 57.59% to Mr O'Brien's 42.41.
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