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Bush, Kerry each gain votes
Hundreds of hanging chads fall off in recount

By John Nolan
The Associated Press   18 December 2004

Hanging chads that came loose when punch-card ballots were handled again or rerun through tallying machines explain most of the additional votes President Bush and John Kerry are picking up in Ohio's recount, election officials said Friday.

With 45 of Ohio's 88 counties reporting final recounts Friday, including the large urban counties of Cuyahoga, Hamilton and Franklin, Bush has gained 303 votes and Kerry has gained 443 votes.

Neither campaign expects the recount to change the outcome.

The Republican Bush won Ohio's 20 electoral votes by a margin of about 119,000.

Franklin and Cuyahoga counties were among the many reporting little or no change from the recount.

In Cuyahoga County, home to Cleveland, Bush lost six votes while Democrat Kerry gained 17, which election workers attribute to hanging chads and worker error.

The largest change was in Hamilton County, where Bush gained 212 votes and Kerry 180. Kerry also picked up 125 votes in Mahoning County.

The biggest loss to date was for Bush in Knox County, where he ped 13 votes.

Kerry lost 8 votes in the central Ohio county.

Pamela Swafford, deputy elections director in Hamilton County, attributed the differences to chads falling out of punch-card ballots during re-handling.

Observers from the Bush, Kerry and third-party campaigns have been watching as teams that each include Democratic and Republican election workers inspected ballots with loose chads to determine voter intent.

"Just barely touching them, they pop, they come out," Swafford said.

"That's not unusual. When you're talking about that many ballots, that's bound to happen."

Libertarian and Green party presidential candidates who received less than 0.3 percent of the Ohio vote requested the statewide recount and paid $113,600 for it, saying they were concerned about reports of election irregularities and wanted to ensure that all votes were counted.

The Kerry campaign supports the recount, while Republicans have called it a waste of time.

Election officials also attributed changes to voter error in filling out paper ballots for optical-scan voting machines, and election worker error in hand-recounting of stacks of ballots.

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