It was a wait felt all around Boston. After approximately a quarter of the city's voters cast ballots in Tuesday's preliminary municipal election, it took City Hall 12 hours to tabulate results. The reason: 7,000 day-of votes received via drop boxes and mail slowed the process.

It was the first time the city used the voting methods in a local election.

Boston's experience contrasted sharply with the statewide voting that occurred in California the same day. More than half of almost nine million ballots were counted there by 1 a.m., according to the New York Times. Between Tuesday and Wednesday morning, Boston processed a total of 108,181 votes.

At their Wednesday meeting, City Councilors were reluctant to criticize the election department. Several Councilors indicated they would be open to a hearing or other conversation on the matter to improve result reporting in time for the Nov. 2 general election. But when all was said and done, the Council gave the elections department a round of applause.

The Council also passed an ordinance that, if signed by acting Mayor Kim Janey, would provide pre-paid envelopes to voters who request to vote by mail, since postage payment was an impediment for some. Councilor Lydia Edwards estimated that it would cost at most $150,000.

"We have all this technology now and it seems to have gotten more difficult," said Dorchester Councilor Frank Baker, recalling a time when votes were cast with the pull of a lever.

"I know everybody was pissed with the difficulty getting numbers around," Baker continued. "I'm sure we'll do some sort of hearing" to figure out how to make the process run more smoothly, he said.

"The City of Boston Election Department worked diligently to ensure every ballot was counted efficiently and accurately," said Election Commissioner Eneida Tavares in a statement. "Due to ballots received on Election Day via US mail and ballot drop boxes, the Election Department had to cross check those ballots with precinct voter lists from each polling location to ensure voters did not vote twice."

Back Bay Councilor Kenzie Bok said while she was excited about the new availability of drop boxes and mail voting, only deeply sourced political insiders had the clearest picture of Tuesday's election results while the rest of the city waited. That, said Bok, should not be the case.

"It's long been true that if you can get a volunteer at every one of the 160 or so polling locations that close, you can know the numbers before they're up," she said.

"I think in people's impatience last night, there was a lot of frustration with our election officials when in fact, they were really, diligently working through the ballots," Bok added.

“The problem," she said, "is that the election department is holding the results precinct by precinct until they've processed all of the dropbox's ballots, which, by definition, cannot get to City Hall until after 8 p.m. on election day. So I think what last night showed us is that we need some kind of unofficial backup."

Council President Pro Tempore Matt O'Malley welcomed the tradeoff: delay for more voter options.

"I will happily take later returns if it means more access for voters and more opportunities for individuals to cast their vote," O'Malley said.

The use of mail-in voting came after the COVID-19 pandemic forced people to avoid large crowds, a fact O'Malley pointed to in an interview with GBH News.

"Running several elections during a pandemic is especially difficult, so I give them credit," O'Malley said of the election department. "I think that the elections department has said, and it's certainly been borne out, that the delay was likely caused by the fact that we were trying to collect and process all of our ballots before releasing the numbers, and that's a good thing."

O'Malley said the inefficiency could probably be solved with a conversation rather than a hearing.

Edwards echoed support for the department. She said she's not inclined towards a public conversation.

"I understand people's frustration," Edwards told GBH News. "I believe that the elections department learned, and whatever resources they need and whatever lessons they learned will be implemented in November."

"I wouldn't be opposed if there is a hearing about it," Edwards added.