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Dems claims victory in Fla.; Romney won't concede

Associated Press Modified: November 8, 2012 at 6:00 pm •  Published: November 8, 2012

MIAMI (AP) — Florida Democrats claimed a victory in the presidential race on Thursday even as election supervisors were still counting votes and the margin between President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney remained tight.

The party issued a statement Thursday saying they had won Florida. The Associated Press has not declared a winner because the contest is too close to call.

Obama led Romney 49.9 percent to 49.3 percent, or by about 52,000 votes. Obama won the White House even though Florida is still undecided.

The Romney campaign and the Republican National Committee said they are waiting for the state to finish its count, which includes thousands of provisional ballots.

Florida is still undecided largely due to long voting lines on election night, a deluge of last-minute absentee ballots and other assorted problems.

Rod Smith, chairman of the Florida Democrats, attacked Florida Gov. Rick Scott — a Republican — for refusing to extend early voting hours, saying it was "a serious mistake that should and must be corrected."

The race results were so close that they could trigger a recount, bringing back memories of the 2000 election, though this time, the votes would hardly matter.

Under Florida law, the state's secretary of state could order a recount if Obama's lead over Republican challenger Mitt Romney finished below a half-percentage point. A manual recount could be ordered if that recount ended below a quarter-percentage point. On Thursday, Obama led Romney 49.9 percent to 49.3 percent — about 9,000 votes over the recount threshold.

Romney's campaign could waive the recount.

Secretary of state spokesman Chris Cate said it was unclear how much a recount would cost taxpayers.

Miami-Dade County suffered the bulk of glitches and long lines, with some voters waiting until 1:30 a.m. Wednesday to cast their ballot. The county's supervisor of elections, Penelope Townsley, said she was aware of the criticism of how her office handled the election.

"I think Miami-Dade County conducted a very good election," she said Thursday. "Am I embarrassed or disappointed by some of the things that happened? Absolutely. But, I have to focus on simply getting it right. And that is exactly what I will move to do."

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