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Decision 2004 not yet over in some states

Three weeks after Election Day and votes are still being counted in some states, including Ohio, the state that put President George W. Bush over the top. NBC's Chip Reid reports.

Three weeks after Election Day and votes are still being counted in some states, including Ohio, the state that put President Bush over the top.

In Ohio, they're still counting the vote. And when they finish, officials say they'll probably start re-counting. Why? Because Ohio law allows any losing candidate to demand a recount.

Sen. John Kerry has not requested one, conceding that a recount won't change the fact that President Bush won.

But two other presidential candidates — Michael Bednarik of the Libertarian Party and David Cobb of the Green Party — have requested a recount. They got less than one percent of the Ohio vote combined, but there's little anyone can do to stop them.

"We want to do an investigation and determine whether or not there were things happening behind the scenes that shouldn't have been," says Bednarik.

Irate Ohio officials predict the recount could take until Christmas and cost the state $1.5 million.

"I'm not disputing their right to a recount," says Keith Cunningham of the Ohio Association of Election Officials. "I'm disputing their abuse of a process, in a situation where there's no compelling reason to recount these votes."

On Wednesday, in Washington state’s governor race, officials declared Republican Dino Rossi the victor by a scant 42 votes after a recount by machine. Democrat Christine Gregoire is now expected to ask that all the votes be recounted again — this time by hand. That process could take weeks.

In Indiana, it's a fight for a seat in Congress that Republican challenger Mike Sodrel won in a squeaker. But the incumbent — Democrat Baron Hill — protested that voting machines in three counties may have malfunctioned. A recount is scheduled to begin on Monday.

And, in Louisiana, two congressional seats are still up in the air, with run-off elections set for December 4.

Deforest Soaries, of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, says the good news is that all of these late races are governed by clear laws and rules.

"The fact that there are still some elections to be determined does not represent a breakdown in the system," he says. "It in fact represents the system working."

Not perfectly, Soaries concedes, but a far cry from the meltdown in Florida four years ago, when no one knew the rules.