TOLEDO, Ohio – Election officials finished the presidential recount in Ohio on Tuesday, with the final tally shaving about 300 votes off President George W. Bush's (search) 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 Sen. John Kerry (search), according to unofficial results provided to The Associated Press by the 88 counties. Lucas County, home to Toledo, was the last to finish counting.
The state had earlier declared Bush the winner by 118,775 votes and plans to adjust its totals to reflect the recount (search) later this week.
The Kerry campaign supported the recount, but said it did not expect the tally to change the election winner. Supporters of the recount, requested by two minor party candidates, said they wanted to make sure every valid vote was counted.
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 (euro83,327) required under state law for the process.
Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell has estimated that the recount will end up costing taxpayers $1.5 million (euro1.1 million).
Witnesses who watched workers count ballots by hand and machine said the effort provided assurance that boards were accurately counting ballots.
But 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 with the Ohio Supreme Court. The voters, supported by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, a civil rights leader, have cited irregularities including long lines, a shortage of voting machines in minority precincts and problems with computer equipment.
Attorney General Jim Petro has called the challenge frivolous and argued that the state Supreme Court does not have jurisdiction over a federal election.
Cliff Arnebeck, an attorney representing the voters in the challenge, wasn't taking much stock in the recount effort. He questioned why there was no independent investigation into the accuracy of counting machines to determine whether the machines had been tampered with.
"You're allowing the original error to be repeated a second time, so it's not a meaningful recount," he said.