Former council member Vincent B. Orange appears to have defeated Republican Patrick Mara for the at-large council seat now being held by Council member Sekou Biddle, who trailed in third place in unofficial results from Tuesday’s special election.

Orange has declared victory, and Mara has conceded.

Shortly after polls closed at 8 p.m. the board released the results of two weeks of early and absentee voting in the race to fill the seat left vacant by Kwame Brown’s election last year as chairman.

According to the results of early voting in 142 or 143 precincts, Orange is drawing about 22 percent of the vote. Democrat Sekou Biddle and Republican Patrick Mara are battling for second. Both received about 18 percent of the vote among those who cast ballots early.

Democrat Bryan Weaver, a Ward 1 community activist, has received about 9 percent of the vote while Democrat Joshua Lopez, a former advisor to ex-mayor Adrian M. Fenty, is in fifth place with about 6 percent, according to the initial returns.

But with the early voting tally accounting for only about 2,200 votes - less than a half percent of all registered voters - all nine candidates in the race were settling in for a potentially long night.

Elections officials have warned it could be well past midnight before all the ballots are counted.