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Recount in Ohio Narrows Bush's Victory Margin

Associated Press
Wednesday, December 29, 2004; Page A04

TOLEDO, Dec. 28 -- Election officials finished the presidential recount in Ohio on Tuesday, with the final tally shaving about 300 votes off President Bush's six-figure margin of victory in the state that gave him a second term.

The recount shows Bush winning Ohio by 118,457 votes over John F. Kerry, according to unofficial results provided to the Associated Press by the state's 88 counties. Lucas County, home to Toledo, was the last to finish.

The state had earlier declared Bush the winner by 118,775 votes and plans to adjust its totals to reflect the recount.

The Kerry campaign supported the recount but said it did not expect the tally to change the winner. Supporters of the recount, requested by two minor party candidates, said they wanted to make sure every valid vote was counted.

Ohio and its 20 electoral votes tipped the race to Bush when Kerry conceded the morning after the vote.

Kerry gained 734 more votes in the recount, and Bush picked up 449, mostly from disqualified ballots that were counted in the second tally because hanging chads had come loose when ballots were handled again or rerun through counting machines. That put Kerry 285 votes closer to Bush. The president's victory margin declined by about three dozen more votes when some counties adjusted their certified vote totals.

The Green and Libertarian party presidential candidates asked for the recount and raised the $113,600 required under state law. Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell (R) has estimated that the recount will cost taxpayers $1.5 million.

The completion of the recount will not bring an end to questions surrounding the vote in Ohio. A group of voters citing fraud have challenged the election results in the Ohio Supreme Court. The voters, supported by Jesse L. Jackson, have cited irregularities including long lines, a shortage of voting machines in minority precincts and problems with computer equipment.

The Government Accountability Office, an arm of Congress, is also investigating election problems.

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