Vote count confirms Obama win in Florida
Florida finally finished counting votes Saturday: President Obama won.
MIAMI — President Obama was re-elected Tuesday. Mitt Romney's campaign conceded defeat in Florida on Thursday.
But in Florida, time stood still — until Saturday. After days of counting absentee ballots, the official results are in: Obama narrowly beat his Republican rival 50 percent to 49.1 percent, a difference of about 74,000 votes.
That determination failed to end the state's drama, however. Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., was defeated by Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy, according to the state's vote count, but the incumbent refuses to concede.
The state issued complete but unofficial results Saturday showing Murphy with a lead of 2,442 votes, or 50.4 percent. That's beyond the half-percent margin needed to trigger an automatic recount.
"We're simply not going to just walk away from the race until we see that the numbers add up," West campaign manager Tim Edson said.
West is a former Army lieutenant colonel who was elected in 2010 on a wave of tea-party support. He is one of only two black Republicans in the House. He had a constant string of headline-grabbing statements, from calling a majority of congressional Democrats communists to saying President Obama, Rep. Nancy Pelosi and others should "get the hell out of the United States."
Murphy, 29, was a political newcomer who portrayed West as an extremist who has done little else than stoke partisan fires.
State officials, meanwhile, are trying to make sense of what went wrong on Election Day and during early voting. A record number of Florida voters — 8.4 million, or 70 percent of those registered — cast ballots. Of those, 2.1 million people voted early, and 2.4 million sent absentee ballots.
Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, said he planned to meet with the state's top election official, Ken Detzner, the secretary of state, to see how Florida could improve the process. And the mayor of Miami-Dade County, where voters endured the state's longest lines, has formed a task force to find out what went wrong.
"We could have done better; we will do better," Detzner told CNN on Friday.
In some cities, voters waited as long as seven hours to vote on Election Day and the eight days of early voting before it. While precincts in one area were nearly empty, others were overrun.
In Miami-Dade, the last people to vote did so Wednesday morning, two hours after Obama was declared the winner and after Romney's concession speech.
Miami-Dade County received about 54,000 absentee ballots in the final days, which slowed the counting process considerably, the local election supervisor said.
Detzner attributed the long lines to the turnout and the lengthy ballot, which included multiple races and 11 proposed constitutional amendments.