President Barack Obama was declared the winner of Florida’s 29 electoral votes on Saturday, ending a four-day count with a razor-thin margin that narrowly avoided an automatic recount that would have brought back memories of the 2000 election.
No matter 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 16 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.
When reached by phone Saturday, Mr. Romney’s communications director Gail Gitcho said the campaign had no comment.
Mr. Obama’s win came in part from heavy support from African-American, Hispanic and younger voters. Exit polls conducted for The Associated Press showed that Mr. Obama was favoured by more than nine of 10 African-American voters and three of five Hispanic voters in Florida. The President also was the choice of two-thirds of voters under age 30.
If there had been a recount, it would not have been as difficult as the lengthy one in 2000.
The State no longer uses punch-card ballots, which became known for their hanging chads. All 67 counties now use optical scan ballots where voters mark their selections manually. Republican George W. Bush won the 2000 contest after the Supreme Court declared him the winner over Democrat Al Gore by a scant 537 votes.
The win gave Mr. Obama victories in eight of the nine swing states, losing only North Carolina. In addition to Florida, he won Ohio, Iowa, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Virginia, Colorado and Nevada.