The results from New Brunswick's 49 ridings were quickly counted on election day, even if the outcome remains unclear, but recounting three close races won't be quick.

In fact, a judge in Saint John warned that it might be “a painful” exercise --- one that he compares to finding “a needle in a haystack.”

Defeated candidate Barry Ogden was accompanied to court today by lawyers representing the Progressive Conservative Party to see whether Ogden really did lose the Saint John Harbour seat by just 10 votes.

Because of that slim margin, even the victorious Liberal candidate says a recount is worthwhile.

“It's 10 votes,” said Gerry Lowe. “If it was the reverse, I'd probably ask for the same thing, so I’ve got no problem with it.”

Inside the court, the judicial recount got underway, supervised by Justice Hugh McLellan.  

There are more than 5,600 ballots to count, but many of those are special ballots, from people from all over New Brunswick who voted in the Saint John Harbour riding.

Those ballots have to be found amid hundreds of votes cast in other ridings -- a process that McLellan likened to finding a needle in a haystack.

Representatives of the Tories, Liberals and New Democrats have representatives in the courtroom, helping to locate some of those ballots.

“It's also interesting to see the ballots that were actually touched by the hands of people who voted,” said Sam Blue of the NDP. “And it's great to see all the people working together to ensure the results are accurate.”

Meanwhile, in Moncton on Wednesday, a similar recount got underway for the Memramcook-Tantramar riding,  where the Green Party defeated the liberals by just 11 votes.

Thursday, another recount begins in Oromocto-Lincoln-Fredericton, a seat the Tories won by a 93-vote margin.

There's a lot at stake in the outcome of each recount. Currently, the Progressive Conservative Party has a one-seat lead over the Liberals.

If just one of the recounts shifts the seat to a different party, it could determine who forms government in the weeks to come.

It is hoped that the recounts will be completed by Friday.

The recount in Saint John Harbour continues Thursday. Depending on the outcome of that recount, the court might then be asked to examine dozens of alleged voting irregularities in the riding, allegations being made by representatives of the Progressive Conservative Party.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Mike Cameron.