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Presidential Election Too Close to Call


Once again, a U.S. presidential election is too close to call, long after the polls have closed, and definitive results could still be hours, even days away. This time the focus is the hotly contested state of Ohio.

It all felt too familiar to American voters.

Election day 2004 dragged into the night and beyond with no clear winner. In 2000, Florida was the state that ultimately determined the outcome. This time, it appears to be Ohio.

With more than 90 percent of the Ohio votes counted, President Bush was in the lead, and it seemed that state might provide the electoral votes needed for victory.

But the Kerry campaign refused to concede Ohio, saying hundreds-of-thousands of votes had not been counted, including provisional ballots cast by those waiting to have their voter registrations verified.

It was almost three o'clock in the morning on the east coast when Democratic Vice-Presidential Nominee John Edwards appeared before a cheering crowd gathered in Senator Kerry's hometown of Boston, Massachusetts, and said they would have to wait a bit longer for the final election results.

"John Kerry and I made a promise to the American people that in this election every vote would count, and every vote would be counted," said Mr. Edwards.

As the polls were opening Election Day, both campaigns expressed the hope the results would come quickly, and there would be no repeat of the 2000 election dispute. Shortly after he cast his ballot Tuesday near his Texas ranch, President Bush told reporters he hoped there would not be any delays.

"My hope, of course, is that this election ends tonight. I think, it's very important for it to end tonight. The world watches our great democracy function," said Mr. Bush. "There would be nothing better for our system for the election to be conclusively over tonight."

Ohio had long been considered a battleground state - one that could ultimately insure victory for one candidate or the other in a very close contest nationwide. Teams of lawyers for both campaigns were already in place Election Day to catch any infringements of voter rights and voter law.

Other races provided clear victors. Voters in the state of Illinois, for example, elected Democrat Barak Obama to the U.S. Senate. The mixed-race son of a Kenyan father and an American mother said there were skeptics who felt voters would never support a candidate with an unusual name and background.

"They felt that in a fearful nation, someone named Barak Obama could never hope to win an election," he said. "And yet, here we stand, because we have a different concept, a different notion of the American people."

Barak Obama's election provided a moment of celebration for Democrats on Election Day. The biggest congressional disappointment came in South Dakota, where Republican John Thune defeated Senate Democratic Party leader Tom Daschle. Overall, Republicans expanded their majority in the House of Representatives, and remained in control of the Senate.

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