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The outcome of the race for California’s 50th District appeared obvious when the first absentee returns came back Tuesday evening, but Francine Busby still hasn’t thrown in the towel.

Rep. Brian Bilbray garnered 53 percent of the vote and holds a commanding 10-point lead over Busby, according to election results posted on Registrar of Voters’ website early Wednesday morning.

Candidates have conceded much closer races in Montana, Virginia and locations across the country, but Busby said she plans to wait for an unknown number of absentee, provisional and paper ballots to be counted. That process could continue for the next two weeks, according to the registrar’s office.

Malfunctioning electronic voting machines and a shortage of absentee ballots forced many voters to vote via photocopies, which must be hand-sorted. With the electronic voting machines deployed countywide for the first time this election, local Democrats and voter watchdog groups encouraged voters to request paper ballots.

Ray Drew, Busby’s campaign manager, said he remains optimistic. He believes that the vast majority of paper ballots were cast in Busby’s favor and that the gap will close considerably in the coming days.

Busby announced her intention to wait out the process at her campaign party in Encinitas on Tuesday night. She said her decision was a practical one, not an attempt to make a larger statement about electronic voting or other issues that have plagued polling places nationwide.

“I owe this to my supporters who worked so hard,” Busby said Tuesday evening.

Updated election results are expected to be posted daily on the registrar’s website at 5 p.m.

DANIEL STRUMPF

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