No recount in Florida as Obama win declared
President Barack Obama was declared the winner of Florida’s 29 electoral votes today, ending a four-day count with a razor-thin margin that narrowly avoided an automatic recount.
Whatever the outcome, Mr Obama had already clinched re-election and now has 332 electoral votes to Republican challenger Mitt Romney’s 206.
The Florida secretary of state’s office said that with almost 100 per cent of the vote counted, Mr Obama led Mr Romney 50 per cent to 49.1 per cent, a difference of about 74,000 votes. That was over the half per cent margin where a computer recount would have been automatically ordered unless Mr Romney had waived it.
There is a November 16th deadline for overseas and military ballots but, under Florida law, recounts are based on Saturday’s results. Only a handful of overseas and military ballots are believed to remain outstanding.
It’s normal for election supervisors in Florida and other states to spend days after any election counting absentee, provisional, military and overseas ballots. Usually, though, the election has already been called on election night or soon after because the winner’s margin is beyond reach.
“Florida has spoken loudly in support of moving our nation forward,” Ashley Walker, the Obama campaign’s director for Florida, said in a news release. She added the win was a testament to the campaign’s volunteers and staff.
When reached by phone on Saturday, Mitt Romney’s communications director, Gail Gitcho, said the campaign had no comment.
Black, Hispanic and young
Mr Obama’s win came in part from heavy support from black, Hispanic and younger voters. Exit polls showed the president was favoured by more than nine out of 10 black voters and three out of five Hispanic voters in Florida. The president also was the choice of two-thirds of voters under age 30.
Republican challenger Mitt Romney led among both white and older voters.
In the end, the facts of who voted for which candidate in Florida faded into memory as voting issues emerged on election night. It was difficult for officials – and the media – to call the presidential race here, in part because the margin was so close and the voting stretched into the evening.
In Miami-Dade, for instance, so many people were in line at 7pm in certain precincts that some people didn’t vote until after midnight. The hours-long wait at the polls in some areas, a lengthy ballot and the fact Gov Rick Scott refused to extend early voting hours has led some to criticise Florida’s voting process. Some officials have vowed to investigate why there were problems at the polls and how that led to a lengthy vote count.
Firebrand demands recount
Also in Florida, Tea Party-backed US Representative Allen West, the firebrand Republican congressman known for his blistering attacks on Mr Obama and other Democrats, lost his re-election bid. Mr West, a 51-year-old ex-army officer, said there were voting irregularities and has called for a partial recount.
The unofficial vote count showed his Democrat challenger, Patrick Murphy, a 29-year-old political newcomer, defeated Mr West by 2,442 votes. Mr Murphy had 50.36 per cent of the vote compared to Mr Wests 49.62 per cent, meaning he was outside the 0.5 per cent margin that would trigger an automatic recount under Florida rules.
On Friday, a Palm Beach County judge rejected a request by Mr West to impound voting machines and ballots.
Mr West, one of two African-American Republicans in the House, had amassed one of the biggest campaign war chests among House Republicans. The race was one of the most expensive in the country. – (AP, Reuters)