DETROIT -

Normally, counting votes is a matter of equipment tabulating filled-in ovals.

However, this Detroit mayoral primary could hinge on the write-in vote.

"It just makes the night a little bit longer," said Daniel Baxter, Detroit elections director.

For voters who want a candidate other than the ones appearing on the ballot, would they write in the barber Mike Dugeon or the former hospital CEO Mike Duggan, or something else? The something else option is where it gets tricky.

Related: Survey: Nearly 40 percent plan to write in Mike Duggan

"We have been emphasizing the write-in procedures, we want to ensure that our poll workers know that they simply record what they see as it is written," said Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey.

Elections officials are hoping for clear penmanship this time around compared to some of the write-ins from 2009, but misspellings are the wild card.

"If it's some, excuse the expression, scribble-scrabble, then the poll workers are instructed to record as best as possible the name that's recorded there," said Baxter.

They will complete a list of every spelling variation -- perhaps a dozen of them. Those unofficial results won't be available until 1 a.m. Wednesday. The final say on voter intent is up to the Wayne County Board of Canvassers.

That process could take another two weeks.

Read more: Wayne County Board of Canvassers to check primary write-in spellings