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Bush Wins Florida


Republican President George Bush won a convincing victory in Florida, the state where the vote was disputed four years ago, leading to a lengthy delay in declaring Mr. Bush the winner of that election. A number of absentee ballots, overseas ballots and provisional ballots still have to be counted, but they are not expected to affect the outcome.

Republican President Bush captured Florida's 27 crucial Electoral College votes, and won more than 50 percent of the vote in Florida.

In the run-up to the election, there was concern that a close vote in Florida could lead to another recount like the one that delayed final results in the 2000 elections. But in this election, Ohio appeared to be the state that would ultimately determine the outcome.

State election officials reported a huge voter turnout on Tuesday. In the days leading up to Election Day, large numbers of voters also turned out to cast their ballots in early voting.

In an interview with a Miami television station on Tuesday, before the final results were announced, Florida Governor Jeb Bush said the conventional wisdom that a large voter turnout would favor Democratic Senator John Kerry appeared not to have been the case.

"We have seen significantly higher voter turnouts across the state in Republican areas, as well," the governor said. "We have out-registered [registered more than] the Democrats in the last four years. There is a net increase, at least in Republicans, and so a higher voter-turnout is not necessarily a good thing for the Democrats. It could turn out to be the margin of victory for President Bush."

Republican strategists said President Bush's victory in Florida could also be attributed to a quick federal response to the damage caused by four hurricanes that struck the state in August and September, causing billions-of-dollars in damage.

Florida's governor, the president's brother, is also personally popular with large numbers of state residents. President Bush won key swing counties in central Florida that Vice-President Al Gore won in the 2000 election. Final results show Mr. Kerry won in only 11 of Florida's 67 counties.

The Republican Party also appeared to have picked up an additional Senate seat in Florida, as Mel Martinez, President Bush's former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, declared himself the winner of Florida's Senate race early Wednesday. With 99 percent of the ballots counted, Mr. Martinez led his challenger, former State Education Commissioner Betty Castor by more than 70,000 votes. A spokesman for Ms. Castor said she would challenge the results in court, citing alleged voting irregularities and thousands of absentee ballots that had not been returned in time to be counted by election officials.

Lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union said they would file a lawsuit in Federal Court on Wednesday, asking that Florida election officials be required to accept absentee ballots for an additional 10 days beyond the election, so that all votes could be counted.

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