US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION: Vote counting still going on in Florida

Reuters, MIAMI

Fri, Nov 09, 2012 - Page 6

It was all over but the shouting in Florida on Wednesday, where the presidential race between US President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney was still too close to call.

More than 24 hours after polls closed in Florida, election officials said votes were still being counted in a handful of counties and final results may not be known before the weekend.

“Every county must report their unofficial results to us by Saturday at noon,” said Chris Cate, a spokesman for Florida’s Secretary of State, who declined to predict when the race in the fourth most populous US state would be called.

Twelve years ago, when the key battleground state was a toss-up that left the presidential race unsettled, Florida was the cause of electoral gridlock.

This time, it hardly seemed to matter. Obama handily won re-election without Florida’s 29 Electoral College votes, which was the biggest prize up for grabs in any of the US swing states.

As of Wednesday evening, Obama had 49.87 percent of the statewide vote versus 49.27 percent for Romney, with just 49,963 votes separating them, according to the Florida Division of Elections.

Officials throughout the state blamed an unexpectedly high number of absentee ballots and the length of the ballots, which included 11 proposed state constitutional amendments, for long lines at polling places and delays in tallying final results.

The final margin of victory in Florida may be less than a percentage point.