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3 Days Late, Bush Is Awarded Iowa

Victory Pushes the President's Total to 286 Electoral Votes

By Paul Farhi
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 6, 2004; Page A07

President Bush officially won the vote in Iowa yesterday, giving him 286 electoral votes to Sen. John F. Kerry's 252 in the 2004 presidential election.

Iowa had been leaning toward Bush during Tuesday's balloting, but the race was too close to call because of uncounted absentee ballots. But with Bush holding a 12,000-vote advantage, Iowa election officials determined yesterday that there were not enough absentee votes for Kerry to overcome Bush's lead.

A win for Kerry in Iowa would not have made a difference in the election. By claiming Ohio's 20 electoral votes early Wednesday, Bush surpassed the 270 needed to ensure his reelection.

Bush's vote total as of yesterday -- 59.42 million -- represented more than 51 percent of the popular vote; Kerry had 55.90 million, or roughly 48 percent. The totals for independent candidate Ralph Nader and others, such as Libertarian Party nominee Michael Badnarik, amounted to less than 1 percent of the vote.

Iowa was one of only three states that switched parties between 2000 and 2004. This time, Bush picked up Iowa and New Mexico -- both of which voted narrowly for Democratic nominee Al Gore four years ago -- while Kerry won in New Hampshire, which went for Bush in 2000.

In addition to solidifying its hold over the South and near West, the Republican ticket gained in the once solidly Democratic upper Midwest. Bush lost traditionally liberal Minnesota by three percentage points, and reliably Democratic Wisconsin by one point. His deficit in Michigan, a union stronghold, was also three points. Iowa, which he won, had voted for every Democratic presidential candidate since 1988.

Bush's easiest victory was in Utah, where he captured 71 percent of the vote. Kerry's was in the District, where he received 90 percent.

The vote counting was marred in several places by computer glitches. The most serious appears to be in Ohio, which provided Bush with his decisive margin. Election officials in Franklin County, in the Columbus area, said yesterday that a computer error gave Bush 3,893 extra votes in one precinct.

Bush actually received 365 votes in the precinct out of 638 votes cast, Matthew Damschroder, director of the Franklin County Board of Elections, told the Columbus Dispatch. It was not clear whether Ohio experienced any other problems with electronic ballots. About 30 percent of the voters in the state voted electronically.

Bush won Ohio by more than 136,000 votes, according to unofficial results, and Kerry conceded the election Wednesday after acknowledging that 155,000 provisional ballots yet to be counted in Ohio would not change the outcome.

In one North Carolina county, more than 4,500 votes were lost because officials misjudged the amount of data that could be stored electronically by a computer.

In San Francisco, a malfunction with custom voting software could delay efforts to declare the winners of four races for county supervisor.

Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), the ranking minority member of the House Judiciary Committee, yesterday asked the Government Accountability Office to investigate these and other irregularities and to suggest improvements.

"The essence of democracy is the confidence of the electorate in the accuracy of voting methods and the fairness of voting procedures," Conyers wrote to the GAO in a letter also signed by Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Robert Wexler (D-Fla). "In 2000, that confidence suffered terribly, and we fear that such a blow to our democracy may have occurred in 2004."

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