Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Ballots are prepared for tabulation at the Salt Lake County Government Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, June 24, 2016.

SALT LAKE CITY — As an incumbent House representative and his challenger near the finish line in a neck-and-neck race, it appears one is inching closer victory.

But as tight as the House 53 Republican primary remains, election officials caution it could still flip, since some — yet few — lingering ballots wait to be tabulated.

Results updated Tuesday revealed challenger Logan Wilde, a Morgan County commissioner, gained a little more ground over former House Speaker Mel Brown, R-Coalville.

When the last batch of results were posted Friday, only seven votes separated Wilde and Brown. But Tuesday, an update of 27 more ballots put Wilde ahead by 16 votes.

"Sixteen votes could go one way or another," Wilde said. "I'm still cautiously optimistic."

On Friday, the race teetered back and forth as two rounds of results were posted.

Initially, Wilde was 64 votes ahead of Brown on primary election night. Brown then snatched a momentary, seven-vote lead Friday afternoon, but lost it again when a second update added 100 votes and put Wilde back on top.

Now, the scale is still tipping ever so slightly in Wilde's favor, with 2,463 votes to Brown's 2,455.

"It could still be a different outcome," said State Elections Director Mark Thomas. "This should be a reminder to voters about how close some of these elections can be and that each vote really does matter."

Thomas said there likely aren't many ballots left to be counted, and he doesn't anticipate another update until Tuesday's canvass.

Wilde was still on edge, however, because Rich County hadn't reported an update Tuesday because it has less than 20 ballots. The state requires counties to only submit a new tally if they have at least 21 votes so voters' identities can be protected.

Brown said he will wait until after all the votes are tabulated before "worrying" about the race.

"Some votes are still coming in, so who knows? It's still very close," he said.

State law allows a vote recount if the results fall within a 0.25 percent margin. Brown said if canvass results fall within that margin, he'll consider calling for a recount. Currently, Wilde leads by a 0.32 percent margin.

"If we get to that point, I think there might be a need," Brown said. "We're all subject to human error."

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