Ohio Certifies Vote, But Challenges Continue

This battleground state on Monday certified President Bush's (search) 119,000-vote victory over John Kerry (search), even as third-party candidates prepared to demand a statewide recount.

Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell (search) certified Bush as the winner based on official results from county election boards, with the final tally of 2.86 million votes for the Republican, or about 51 percent of the vote, and 2.74 million or 49 percent for Democrat John Kerry.

The 118,775-vote lead was closer than the unofficial election night margin of 136,000, but not enough to trigger a mandatory recount. Absentee ballots and provisional votes (search) counted after election night made most of the difference.

"This was an election where you have some glitches but none of these glitches were of a conspiratorial nature and none of them would overturn or change the election results," Blackwell said.

The presidential election hung on Ohio, prized for its 20 electoral votes. Not until the morning after the election did Kerry finally concede -- realizing there were not enough provisional ballots to erase Bush's lead.

But presidential candidates for the Green and Libertarian parties planned to file requests for recounts Monday and Tuesday.

Recount advocates have cited numerous Election Day problems, from long lines, a shortage of voting machines in predominantly minority neighborhoods and suspicious vote totals for candidates in scattered precincts.

A ruling by a federal judge in Columbus on Friday rejected one county's attempt to stop a recount, avoiding a legal precedent that could have stopped other recounts. Green and Libertarian party candidates have already raised the required $113,600.

Both major parties have said they do not expect the recount to change the result of the election.

The Democratic Party also said Monday it will examine reports of voting problems in Ohio.

Outgoing Democratic National Committee (search) Chairman Terry McAuliffe said the party will spend "whatever it takes" to study complaints from Ohio voters.

McAuliffe said the party is not seeking to overturn the result but to ensure that every vote is counted. He said the study will be conducted by nonpartisan experts to be announced later, with a report issued in the spring that recommends reforms to prevent such problems in the future.

Blackwell, a Republican, oversaw the election process while serving as one of several statewide GOP leaders who co-chaired Bush's campaign. The 2000 Florida recount was also administered by a Republican secretary of state, Katherine Harris, who is now a member of Congress.

In a conference call with reporters, McAuliffe said the panel needs to look at the practice of secretaries of state serving as campaign officials. He said he personally thinks it's a laudable goal for election officials to be nonpartisan.