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Sunday, July 21, 2024 | Back issues
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Trump Wins Hard-Fought Florida

(CN) — President Donald Trump is projected to win Florida's 29 electoral votes, defeating his Democratic rival Joe Biden in the country's largest battleground state.

As of 10:30 p.m., more than 381,000 votes separated the president and Biden. According to the state’s division of elections, Trump has 51.29% of the vote and 47.81% have opted for Biden, with 98% of precincts reporting.

Trump’s margin is three times higher than 2016 when he faced Hillary Clinton.

More than a million Floridians cast ballots in person before the end of Election Day, adding to an already historic voter turnout. Before polls opened at 7 a.m. Tuesday, over 9 million Floridians already voted — accounting for 63% of all the state’s registered voters.

State election officials have counted 10.9 million ballots so far.

Supervisors of elections in some of the state’s larger counties still have thousands of mail-in ballots to tabulate, along with has overseas and absentee ballots to count. Florida law gives counties 10 days to certify the results.

Florida is a must-win swing state for Trump, who changed his residency from New York to the Sunshine State late last year. The president narrowly won Florida in 2016 by less than 1% of the vote.

Political analysts say Trump needs Florida’s 29 electoral votes to remain competitive in his bid for reelection, while Biden has a few other paths to victory.

Voter surveys in the run-up to the election found Trump and Biden in a statistical dead heat with very few undecided voters.

The closeness of the race has led to repeated trips by both candidates to this eternally purple state. Biden’s wife, Jill, made an appearance at a St. Petersburg voting location Tuesday afternoon.

St. Petersburg lies in Pinellas County, which political analysts have dubbed the swing state’s “swing county.” The county’s voters chose the winning president in the last four elections.

“Florida is a very important state,” the former second lady told a small crowd in the historic black neighborhood. “We’re hoping to win it. We’re not taking any vote for granted.”

Trump visited South Florida for a rally late Sunday night, illustrating the importance of the Cuban-American vote in the predominantly Democratic region.

“If Biden wins, then the country will turn more to the left and we do not want that,” voter Eugenio Perez said at the West Dade Regional Library in Miami-Dade County. “I am Cuban, so I come from a communist country, and I don’t want that in the U.S.”

In a press briefing Tuesday afternoon, Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee said her department was monitoring election security and “there are no reported issues.”

“Misinformation and disinformation continues to be an active threat and it is essential that voters rely on trusted and verified sources about the election,” said Lee, a Republican. “Do not believe everything you read or see on social media.”

Lee also said there were only a few “isolated precincts” with technology issues.

“These issues did not prevent any voter from casting a ballot today,” she said.

Earlier in the day, Republican Governor Ron DeSantis activated the state’s National Guard to handle any possible security concerns. Some businesses in South Florida boarded up windows Tuesday morning in anticipation of possible protests, according to local news reports.

Earlier Tuesday, a federal judge ordered the U.S. Postal Service to go through some mail facilities in battleground states that showed low processing rates for mail-in ballots. Some of those facilities were in South and Central Florida.

In an evening press briefing, Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said the organization’s hotline received more than 30,000 complaints on Tuesday.

“We were bracing for the worst and have been pleasantly surprised,” said Clarke.

Still, Florida had the third most complaints, she said, including a truck blocking a polling place in Palm Beach County. That report could not be independently confirmed.

“Voter intimidation was at its height in Florida,” she said.

Follow @alexbpickett
Categories / Politics

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