ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — President Obama was declared the winner of Florida’s 29 electoral votes Saturday, ending a four-day count with a razor-thin margin that narrowly avoided an automatic recount that would have brought back memories of 2000.
No matter the outcome, Obama had already clinched reelection and now has 332 electoral votes to Mitt Romney’s 206.
The Florida secretary of state’s office said that with nearly 100 percent of the vote counted, Obama led his Republican challenger 50 percent to 49.1 percent, a difference of about 74,000 votes. That was over the half-percent margin where a computer recount would have been automatically ordered unless Romney had waived it.
There is a Friday Nov. 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.
It is 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 that the win was a testament to the campaign’s volunteers and staff.
When reached by phone Saturday, Mitt Romney’s communications director Gail Gitcho said the campaign had no comment.
Obama’s win came in part from heavy support from black, Hispanic, and younger white voters. Exit polls conducted showed Obama was favored by more than 9 of 10 black voters and 3 of 5 Hispanic voters in Florida. He 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 election night.
On election night this year, 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 7 p.m. in certain precincts that some people did not vote until after midnight.
The hours-long wait at the polls in some areas, a lengthy ballot, and the fact that Governor Rick Scott refused to extend early voting hours has led some to criticize Florida’s voting process. - ASSOCIATED PRESS
Republican lawmaker from Florida won’t concede to Democratic rival
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Firebrand Republican Representative Allen West refused to concede Saturday after the state concluded Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy held a lead beyond the margin needed for an automatic recount.
The state issued complete but unofficial results showing Murphy with a lead of 2,442 votes, or 50.4 percent. A handful of overseas and military ballots remain outstanding, but in Florida the recount decision is based on Saturday’s count.
Murphy declared victory early Wednesday morning and has held his lead ever since, even as thousands of absentee and provisional ballots were processed.
West’s campaign said there are many unanswered questions in the race, mostly in St. Lucie County, the only one of three counties in the district that Murphy won. They fear votes were counted twice and want to see sign-in books from the polls.