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The 2000 Presidential Election
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The Election Dispute: November 8 - January 20
[This is the short version. A longer version is available here]
Issue #1: The Palm Beach County Butterfly Ballot Controversy
Wednesday morning brought the first specific reports of voting irregularity in Florida. Attention soon focused on the design of the ballot in Palm Beach County, which many voters found confusing. This ballot design used 2 pages for voting on a single office. The candidates were staggered one on the left page, then one on the right page, and then back to the left page again. The name corresponded to holes that ran down the center between the 2 pages. These punch-card style voting machines required the voter to pick up a pointed stylus, line it up with the hole corresponding to his candidate of choice, and to push it down into the hole and through the voter card underneath the ballot booklet. Some voters found the left, right, left, right design confusing. George Bush and Al Gore were the first two candidates listed on the left side, but the hole corresponding to Al Gore's name was the third one down, not the second one. The second hole belonged to Pat Buchanan, whose name was the first one listed on the right side of the ballot. Ironically, this ballot design was chosen in part because it allows for larger print, and it was an attempt to accommodate the county's large elderly population. Unfortunately, as many as 3,000 voters who intended to vote for Al Gore ignored the right side of the ballot and punched the second hole down and thus accidentally voted for Pat Buchanan (The punch card itself is slipped in beneath this ballot from above). Voters in Palm Beach County were sent a sample ballot by mail, but it did not show the holes down the center.
Palm Beach County FL Ballot (Butterfly Ballot design)
Palm Beach County FL Ballot (Butterfly Ballot design)
Lee County FL Ballot (single page design, for comparison purposes)
Lee County FL Ballot (single page design, for comparison purposes) (6 views)
Palm Beach Post (with article about the butterfly ballot) 11/8 ( 2 views)
Palm Beach Post (with article about the butterfly ballot) 11/8 (2 views)
Palm Beach County Sample Ballot, mailed to all registered voters (complete, 10 pages)
Palm Beach County Sample Ballot, mailed to all registered voters (complete, 10 pages)
Palm Beach County Sample Ballot, mailed to all registered voters (Presidential Election page only)
Palm Beach County Sample Ballot, mailed to all registered voters (Presidential Election page only)
The following day, Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan agreed that most of the 3,400 votes he got in Palm Beach County county, known for its Democratic support, were likely accidentally cast for him due to the ballot confusion, and were meant for Al Gore. Buchanan has consistently confirmed this belief on television ever since (often with a wry smile).  
Cartoon by Marshal Ramsey, The Clarion Ledger
Cartoon by Marshal Ramsey, The Clarion Ledger
Indecision 2000 T-shirt with Palm Beach Ballot
Indecision 2000 T-shirt with Palm Beach Ballot
Cartoon by unknown artist
Cartoon by unknown artist
Cartoon by Rick McKee, The Augusta Chronicle
Cartoon by Rick McKee, The Augusta Chronicle
Voting For Dummies Pin
Voting for Dummies Pin (2 views)
On November 14, A circuit court judge in Palm Beach agreed to hear legal arguments that the "Butterfly Ballot" design in Palm Beach was poorly designed and resulted in Gore supporters accidentally voting for Pat Buchanan. Five judges had previously recused themselves from the case.

On November 17, a court hearing was scheduled to decide if a re-vote in Palm Beach was constitutional. The circuit judge said he would issue a written order next week on whether he had the authority to order a re-vote.

On November 20, Florida Circuit Judge Jorge Labarga in Palm Beach County said that he lacked the authority under the US Constitution to order a new presidential election in Palm Beach County. This wasn't quite the end of the butterfly ballot issue.

On November 27, the case to decide whether the ballot was legal was moved to the Florida Supreme Court. On Friday, December 1, the Florida Supreme Court affirmed the lower court's decision that the butterfly ballot used in Palm Beach County was not so confusing as to disenfranchise voters. This effectively ended the butterfly ballot issue.
 
Issue #2: The Manual Recount (and Hanging/Dimpled/Pregnant Chad controversy)
Al Gore's team requested hand counts of ballots in four counties in Florida, citing reports of voting irregularities and voter confusion over the ballot layout in Palm Beach. This would turn out to be the most crucial decision of the Gore campaign, though that wouldn't be evident until more than a month later. The four counties were: Volusia, Palm Beach, Miami-Dade, and Broward. These counties leaned heavily toward the Democratic Party, and they all used the older punch card ballot, a design much more likely than others to produce so-called "undervotes"--votes that, when put through the machines, did not register any vote for the Presidential election. The Gore campaign believed that more votes were there for Al Gore than were counted by the machine counting process.
On Friday, November 10, The automatic machine recount of the votes in Florida's 67 counties concluded with Bush unofficially leading Gore by 327 votes. Official numbers wouldn't be announced until after 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 14. The Bush legal team sought a federal injunction to stop the hand recounts in the 4 Florida counties requested by Gore. Their main argument was that giving these ballots special scrutiny was a violation of the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause. Bush left Austin for Crawford, Texas, where he would spend most of the month. He continued to behave as if the election was now over. Throughout the days ahead, Bush would never trail Gore in the Florida vote-counting, a fact that probably went a long way toward him winning the public relations battle.
Bush & Cheney in Crawford
Bush & Cheney in Crawford
Sample Punch Card
Sample Punch Card
Unpunched Chad Close-up (front)
Unpunched Chad Close-up (front)
Unpunched Chad Close-up (back)
Unpunched Chad Close-up (back)
Punch card ballots that did not register a vote for President when run through the machines were called "undervotes." In some cases, the voter may have not intended to vote for President, but instead showed up to vote for other races and/or ballot issues. However, many of these ballots did not register a vote because the small piece of paperboard covering the hole did not completely detach from the ballot when the stylus was pushed through. These small pieces of paperboard, called "chips" on the instructions attached to the voting machine, came to be known as "chads" in the media. Manual inspection of undervotes revealed chads in different stages of detachment. Chads detached from at least one corner were called hanging chads. Those still attached at 3 or 4 corners but
bulging out from the pressure of the stylus were called pregnant chads, and those with only a slight indentation from the tip of the stylus came to be known as dimpled chads. Manual recounts involved trying to determine the intent of the voter. If the entire ballot was made up of dimpled chads, one might conclude that the voter simply did not not apply enough pressure to punch through the card.
Hanging Chad
Hanging Chad
Pregnant Chad
Pregnant Chad
Dimpled Chad
Dimpled Chad
Punch Card Voting Machine
Punch Card Voting Machine
Punch Card Voting Machine Instructions, view 1
Punch Card Voting Machine Instructions, view 1
Punch Card Voting Machine Instructions, view 2
Punch Card Voting Machine Instructions, view 2
Since the punch card is slipped beneath the actual fixed ballot and can't be seen when the voter is pushing the stylus into the hole, one can understand how that might occur. But what if the card contains all cleanly punched holes except for the Presidential election? How could a manual recounter be certain that the voter didn't change his mind at the last moment? What if the card contains a mixture of cleanly punched, hanging, and dimpled chads? What if one county decided that dimpled and pregnant chads don't count as votes, but the next county over decides that they do count? Do you count it as a vote if the chad is detached only at one corner? How about 2, or 3 corners?

Punch Card Voting Machine Base
Punch Card Voting Machine Base
Punch Card Voting Machine Base Top
Punch Card Voting Machine Base Top
Punch Card Chad Trough
Punch Card Chad Trough (the punch card would be on top of this, and the stationary ballot booklet would be on top of that)
View beneath the rubber matting
View beneath the rubber matting showing possible blockage on some Palm Beach machines when voting for Al Gore
Chad build-up on Palm Beach voting machine experiment
Chad build-up on Palm Beach voting machine experiment conducted by Douglas W. Jones
All of the controversy over hanging, dimpled, and pregnant chads might have been avoided if voters in the counties that used these punch card style voting machines had just followed the instructions attached to the machines, which indicate to the voter to check their punch card after voting for any loose "chips". On the other hand, these instructions were somewhat covered up by the ballot holders themselves. And anyway, the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment applies to registered voters who don't follow instructions, or who are simply confused, or who lack the what society refers to as common sense. Additionally, research done by Douglas W. Jones (Associate Professor, University of Iowa Department of Computer Science) revealed a potential chad blockage/build-up problem in Palm Beach County on some machines when voters tried to punch the card for Al Gore. Rather than
Loose Chads
Loose Chads
accepting 50,000 pieces of chad as they were designed to hold, these machines may have had enough build-up to allow only for dimples to occur after only a few hundred votes. Finally, although the voting machine instructions clearly stated that voters could get a new ballot if they made a mistake, some voters who realized they had mistakenly voted for Pat Buchanan in Palm Beach were denied a new ballot by election workers there.
The punch card ballot recount, the different standards each of the 4 counties ultimately applied to what constituted a vote, and the back-and-forth legal battle surrounding the issue quickly became the focus of the election and of the popular culture surrounding it. The word chad quickly became a part of the national lexicon.
Cartoon by Bob Englehart, The Hartford Courant
Cartoon by Bob Englehart, The Hartford Courant
Cartoon by Mike Peters, The Dayton Daily News
Cartoon by Mike Peters, The Dayton Daily News
Cartoon by Rex Babin, The Sacramento Bee
Cartoon by Rex Babin, The Sacramento Bee
Cartoon by Steve Breen, The Asbury Park Press
Cartoon by Steve Breen, The Asbury Park Press
Cartoon by Dick Locher, The Chicago Tribune
Cartoon by Dick Locher, The Chicago Tribune
 
Issue #3: Overseas Absentee Ballots Controversy: At midnight on November 17, the deadline passed for receipt of overseas absentee ballots. There were an estimated 2,300 of these ballots for Florida, which were expected to have an impact on the final results.
Cartoon by Dick Wright, The Columbus Dispatch
Cartoon by Dick Wright, The Columbus Dispatch
Cartoon by John Cole, The Durham Herald-Sun
Cartoon by John Cole, The Durham Herald-Sun
Overseas absentee ballots often come from wealthy Americans living abroad, or from members of the military. Both of these voting groups tend to favor Republican candidates At this moment in the dispute, Democrats sued Seminole County Canvassing Board for including certain absentee ballots in the vote totals that did not satisfy the legal requirement that the person requesting the absentee ballot provide the elector's registration number on their application. Although the Democrats could make a valid legal argument for challenging these ballots (and thereby likely stopping Bush from padding his
vote lead), this move left the impression among many that Al Gore was a hypocrite. The chant of "count the votes" from supporters of Al Gore, which had resonated with so many as an idealistic cry for democratic values, suddenly seemed a bit tarnished. On November 18, after counting the overseas absentee ballots, Bush's lead over Gore increased to 930 votes. Bush picked up 1,380 of them and Gore received 750 votes. On November 25, the Bush team dropped its lawsuit intended to force Florida counties to reconsider overseas military ballots that were rejected for technical reasons. Presumably, they wanted to avoid criticisms of hypocrisy similar to those made against Al Gore.

However, late in the game, another absentee ballot lawsuit arose. Apparently, Republican volunteers in Seminole County corrected mistakes made by overseas ballot applicants that should have made those ballots invalid. Gore sued to throw out 4,700 of these ballots. However, district Court Judge Maurice Paul denied a Gore request to throw out overseas absentee ballots not received by Election Day. Gore appealed these rulings to the Florida Supreme Court, which also ruled against him.

 
Issue # 2 (continued): The Manual Recount:
On Sunday, November 12, officials in Palm Beach voted to do county-wide manual hand recounts per Gore's request. Volusia County officials began hand recounts of all their 184,000 ballots. Local officials asked the Florida Secretary of State, Katherine Harris to extend the 5 p.m. Tuesday deadline to complete the task and report their final numbers.
The responsibility of certifying state election results resided with Secretary of State Katherine Harris,who quickly become a household name. She was parodied on Saturday Night Live, was the butt of the late-night comedy monologues, and was vilified in political cartoons across the nation. Although she was a Republican who had campaigned for Bush and her decisions certainly benefited the Governor, at no time did she violate the law or exceed her powers as Florida's Secretary of State.

On November 14 at 8:20 a.m., officials in Palm Beach County voted 2-1 to delay the start of their manual recount until they were able to clarify whether or not they had the authority to proceed. The canvassing board in Miami-Date County unanimously voted to start an immediate hand recount of ballots in only 3 precincts requested by the Gore team. At 9:00 a.m., Harris announced that the 5 p.m. deadline for
Cartoon by Dan Wasserman, The Boston Globe
Cartoon by Dan Wasserman, The Boston Globe
submitting vote counts for certification would stand. No extension would be given for time to finish hand recounts. The Democrats said they would fight this decision in court. Shortly thereafter, Volusia County filed a lawsuit requesting the courts to grant an extension of the deadline. In response to the Volusia County legal action, Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis upheld the 5 p.m. deadline. He went on to say that supplemental returns could be filed after the deadline, but also that those returns could be ignored if circumstances so warranted. The Gore legal team appealed this decision to the Florida Supreme Court.

Miami-Dade County decided not to conduct a full hand recount. Instead, the county did a hand recount of one percent of the votes, resulting in little change from the original results. Volusia County finished its hand recount by the 5 p.m. ET deadline, with Gore gaining 90 votes. Broward County chose not to go ahead with a full manual recount, citing the unlikelihood of meeting the pending deadline. Palm Beach decided it would resume its recount the following day, despite the 5:00 p.m. deadline. That evening, Florida Katherine Harris announced that Bush led Gore by 300 votes based on returns submitted by all 67 counties.
Cartoon by Kevin Siers, The Charlotte Observer
Cartoon by Kevin Siers, The Charlotte Observer
Cartoon by Mark Streeter, The Savannah Morning News
Cartoon by Mark Streeter, The Savannah Morning News
Cartoon by Matt Davies, The Journal News
Cartoon by Matt Davies, The Journal News
Cartoon by Mike Thompson, The Detroit Free Press
Cartoon by Mike Thompson, The Detroit Free Press
Cartoon by Drexel Dwane Powell, The News Observer
Cartoon by Drexel Dwane Powell, The News Observe

On November 15, Broward County canvassing board reversed its earlier decision and decided to conduct a full manual recount. At 2:00 p.m., a deadline for counties to submit to the state a written justification of a manual recount expired. In the evening, a state judge ruled that the Palm Beach County board could set its own rules on which ballots were valid. Harris said she would not accept results of any hand recounts when it came time to certify final totals on Saturday the 18th.

Manual Recount Legal Challenge: At 9:00 a.m. on November 15, Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris petitioned the Florida Supreme Court to halt hand recounts in Miami-Date, Broward, and Palm Beach counties, and to consolidate lawsuits in a state court. Palm Beach County officials asked the Florida

Cartoon by Jeff Danziger, Los Angeles Times
Cartoon by Jeff Danziger, Los Angeles Times
Cartoon by Bob Englehart, The Hartford Courant
Cartoon by Bob Englehart, The Hartford Courant
Cartoon by Gary Markstein, The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
Cartoon by Gary Markstein, The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
Supreme Court to decide if the county has the authority to count votes by hand.

12:00 p.m.: The Bush camp said it would join with the petition filed by Secretary of State Katherine Harris to stop all hand recounts. Al Gore suggested a hand recount in all of Florida's 67 counties, something that constitutional experts would later say he should have asked for in the beginning (rather than just certain precincts in 4 counties). Gore said he would forgo any further legal challenges if the Bush team would accept the recounts in the 4 counties he originally named. Gore also proposed a face-to-face meeting with Governor George Bush.

In the evening, the Florida Supreme Court denied the motion submitted by Secretary Harris to stop all manual recounts. At 10:15 p.m. George Bush rejected Al Gore's proposal for a statewide manual recount, saying it would be neither fair nor accurate. Bush also rejected Gore's idea for a face-to-face meeting, but said he would be glad to meet with Gore after the election.

On November 16, Lawyers for Bush submitted written arguments to the US Federal appeals court in Atlanta to end the manual recounts. Democrats also filed papers with the federal court to counter the Bush maneuver. Attorneys for the Gore campaign then filed an emergency motion in Leon County state court challenging the imminent certification of the results of the Florida presidential election. The Florida Supreme Court ruled that Palm Beach County could proceed with a manual recount of ballots. Moments later, Palm Beach County officials announced they would begin their recount.

Cartoon by Nick Anderson, The Louisville Courier-Journal
Cartoon by Nick Anderson, The Louisville Courier-Journal
Cartoon by Chris Britt, The State Journal-Register
Cartoon by Chris Britt, The State Journal-Register
On November 17, Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis rejected Gore's emergency motion and upheld Secretary of State Katherine Harris' decision to reject late vote tallies from manual recounts.

Later in the day, the Florida Supreme Court blocked Harris from any vote certification "until further order of this court," until it could rule on the Democrats' motion to allow hand recounts to be counted. It set a Monday hearing on the recount dispute. Miami-Dade County then reversed its earlier decision and announced it would conduct a full manual recount. Finally, the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit denied a Bush team request to stop the manual recounts. at 4:30 p.m.
Cartoon by Mike Ramirez, Los Angeles Times
Cartoon by Mike Ramirez, Los Angeles Times
Cartoon by Mike Thompson, The Detroit Free Press
Cartoon by Mike Thompson, The Detroit Free Press
Vice President Al Gore gave a news conference on the Florida Supreme Court's decision to block the vote certification until monday's hearing. Gore said:
That's why I'm very pleased that the hand counts are continuing. They're proceeding, despite efforts to obstruct them. And that is why the decision just announced by the Florida Supreme Court preventing the Florida secretary of state from certifying the election results tomorrow is so important.

The next day, November 18, Miami-Dade County began a manual recount.
Al Gore News Conference
sound Al Gore News Conference
Manual Recount Legal Challenge: The Florida Supreme Court: On November 20, the Florida Supreme Court heard arguments in Palm Beach County Canvassing Board v. Harris, to answer the legal question of whether or not Secretary of State Katherine Harris should have to include hand-recounted ballots in the state's final certification. The decision was handed down the following day.
Florida Supreme Court: Palm Beach County v. Harris
sound Florida Supreme Court: Palm Beach County v. Harris
Cartoon by Jeff Danziger, Los Angeles Times
Cartoon by Jeff Danziger, Los Angeles Times
Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson, The Philadelphia Daily News
Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson, The Philadelphia Daily News
In their decision in Palm Beach County Canvassing Board v. Harris, the Florida Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the recounts could continue in three Florida counties and that the results of those recounts must be included in the final tally. The court set a deadline of November 26 (or early November 27, since the 26th was a Sunday) to certify the recount vote. Harris set the deadline at 5:00 p.m., November 26. Democratic candidates Al Gore and Joe Lieberman made a brief statement to the press.

Following the Florida Supreme Courts decision in Palm Beach County Canvassing Board v. Harris, lawyers for Bush filed two appeals with the US Supreme Court in an attempt to shut down manual recounts in Florida.
Florida Supreme Court Ruling
sound Florida Supreme Court Ruling
Gore & Lieberman reaction
sound Gore & Lieberman reaction

Manual Recount Update: On November 22, Miami-Dade County decided to stop recounting ballots, believing they couldn't meet the Sunday evening deadline imposed by the court. The decision to stop was upheld by a Florida appeals court after the Democrats tried to get the county to continue the recount. The Democrats said they would take the matter to the Florida Supreme Court. Later in the day, a state judge ruled that Palm Beach County election officials must consider "dimpled chad" punch-card ballots but could reject questionable ballots if the voters' intent couldn't be determined.

On Thursday, November 23 (Thanksgiving), The Florida Supreme Court refused to order Miami-Dade County to resume the manual recount. Americans took a break from the election dispute to celebrate Thanksgiving.

George Bush reaction
sound George Bush reaction to Florida Supreme Court Ruling
Manual Recount Legal Challenge Update: On Friday, November 24, the US Supreme Court, the highest court in the country, agreed to hear Bush's appeal of the Florida Supreme Court's November 21 ruling in Palm Beach County Canvassing Board v. Harris, (that selective manual recounts must be included in the state's final presidential tally). The hearing was set for December 1. On the 25th, Broward County completed its hand recount.
Broward County Manual Recount Audio
sound Broward County Manual Recount Audio
Cartoon by Kevin Kallaugher, The Baltimore Sun
Cartoon by Kevin Kallaugher, The Baltimore Sun
MP3
sound "The Al Gore Doll" by Bob & Tom
Manual Recount Legal Challenge: The US Supreme Court:
On December 1, The US Supreme Court heard 90 minutes of oral arguments from both sides in Bush's appeal of the Florida Supreme Court decision that authorized manual recounts. The case was now called Bush v. Palm Beach County Canvassing Board. This marked the first time the high court had ever intervened in a presidential election. It was also the first time that audio from the Supreme Court was delivered to the media within hours of the actual hearing (no cameras have ever been allowed in the courtroom). People gathered outside the court house to show their support for either Bush or Gore and to wait in line in hopes of getting a glimpse of history-in-the-making. Only the first 50 people were seated throughout the hearing and others were allowed in for three-minute intervals.
US Supreme Court
US Supreme Court: Bush v. Palm Beach County Canvassing Board
sound
Part 1 | Part 2
On Monday, December 4, the US Supreme Court issued its ruling in Bush v. Palm Beach County Canvassing Board. Was it proper for the Florida Supreme Court to extend the certification deadline and order selective hand-counting results be included in those totals? Usually the US Supreme Court will either "affirm" the lower court's decision (agree with it), or "overturn" it (reverse it). This time, however, they did not understand the reasoning behind the decision, so they vacated the Florida Supreme Court's order and sent the case back to that court for clarification. Once the Florida Supreme Court explained why it ruled the way it did, the US Supreme Court would have another look at the ruling's validity. This issue would become somewhat moot, however, as in the meantime, the final legal challenge over the certified election results would ultimately decide the presidential election.
Bush reacts to Supreme Court Ruling
sound Bush reacts to Supreme Court Ruling
Cartoon by Steve Sack, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune
Cartoon by Steve Sack, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune
 
FL Sec. of State Harris certifies the Vote
sound FL Sec. of State Harris certifies the Vote
Governor Bush Address on vote certification
sound Governor Bush Address on vote certification
Joe Lieberman
sound Joe Lieberman announces that he and Al Gore will contest the certification
Issue #4: The Florida Vote Certification & Contest: On November 26, Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris denied a request by Palm Beach County to extend the 5:00 p.m. deadline for 90 minutes (leaving 1,000 ballots uncounted) and certified the count. Her certified election results showed George W. Bush the winner by 537 votes.

Governor Bush addressed the nation and accepted victory in Florida and in the 2000 Presidential election. Democratic Vice Presidential candidate Joe Lieberman also gave a news conference where he announced that he and Al Gore would officially challenge the Florida vote certification. This case would become known as Gore v. Harris.
The Bush team responded by getting its transition team ready. President Bill Clinton's administration had refused to give the Republicans office space and money for transition purposes until the election was finally settled. However, the White House did offer to give Bush national security briefings which Gore, as Vice President, already received, in order to help both men prepare for the presidency while the election was being settled.

Florida Governor Jeb Bush, the candidate's brother, signed the Certificate of Ascertainment designating 25 Florida electors pledged to George W. Bush and transmitted the document to the National Archives as required by US law.
Cartoon by Kevin Kallaugher, The Baltimore Sun
Cartoon by Kevin Kallaugher, The Baltimore Sun
Cartoon by Kevin Siers, The Charlotte_Observer
Cartoon by Kevin Siers, The Charlotte Observer
On November 27, The Gore team officially "contested" Florida's certification of George W. Bush as the winner of Florida's election by filing three different challenges. The challenges were to order Miami-Dade County to recount 10,000 disputed ballots, to include the late results of Palm Beach County in the final certified tally, and to require Nassau County to send in its recount results instead of its election night numbers. The case was assigned to Judge Sanders Sauls. Arguments for both sides would begin Friday. In the evening, Al Gore gave a televised address explaining his rationale for contesting the certified election results. The following day, Judge Sauls
Al Gore on Election Contest
sound Al Gore on Election Contest
Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson, The Philadelphia Daily News
Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson, The Philadelphia Daily News
ordered the disputed ballots, sample voting booths, and voting machines from Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties be brought to his courtroom in Tallahassee by the 30th. On November 30, a yellow Ryder rental truck carrying ballot boxes with more than 450,000 votes from southern Florida arrived in the state's capital followed by armed police guards and news helicopters.
 
Sore Loserman Coffee Mug
Sore Loserman Coffee Mug
Sore Loserman T-shirt
Sore Loserman T-shirt
Bush, Cheney, Powell at Crawford ranch
sound Bush, Cheney, Powell at Crawford ranch
On November 30, Governor Bush met with Dick Cheney and Colin Powell at his ranch in Crawford, Texas. The three made a brief media appearance, where they made it clear they were moving forward with creating an administration. Dick Cheney announced the opening of the Bush transition offices.
Judge Sauls
Judge Sauls
On December 2, the hearing to consider the Democrats request for a recount of 14,000 disputed ballots in Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties was heard by Judge Sauls. Experts testified about problems that sometimes prevent voting machines from properly punching holes in paper ballots. In the Gore v. Harris case, Judge Sauls denied Gore's request to recount 14,000 disputed ballots from two Florida counties saying there was no evidence a recount would overturn Republican George W. Bush's lead in Florida. Saunders would not overturn the Florida election certification. Gore appealed to the Florida Supreme Court. On December 7, the Florida Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case. The judges of the Florida Supreme Court retired for the day without deciding on Democrat Al Gore's request for a manual recount of 14,000 disputed ballots.
The next day, the Florida Supreme Court issued its ruling in Gore v. Harris, Gores challenge to Florida's certified election results. They reversed the lower court's ruling that went against Al Gore and ordered that 383 votes be added to Gore's total in Florida – 215 from Palm Beach County and 168 from Miami-Dade. This dropped Bush's lead to a mere 154 votes of about six million cast in the state. And this was before any votes were manually recounted. Most importantly, the court ordered a statewide manual recount. Bush's team filed a 41-page appeal to the US Supreme Court asking for a halt to any recounts. In addition, they petitioned the Florida Supreme Court and the 11th Circuit court for a stay of the Florida Supreme Court's ruling.

On December 9, Florida began a statewide manual recount of the undervote ballots (ballots that did not register any vote for President when run through the machines). The Florida Supreme Court denied Bush's appeal for a stay to its ruling. The 11th Circuit Court also denied Bush's appeal for a stay, but it also ordered Florida officials not to change Bush's certified 537 vote lead. Most importantly, however, by a vote of 5-4, the US Supreme Court granted the Bush request for a stay and ordered a halt to hand counts in Florida while it acted on Bush's appeal of the Florida Supreme Court ruling ordering a statewide manual recount.

Florida Supreme Court Ruling in Gore v. Harris
sound Florida Supreme Court Ruling in Gore v. Harris
Button: Don't Get Snippy With Me You Son of a Bush, Concede Now!
Button: Don't Get Snippy With Me You Son of a Bush, Concede Now!
Cartoon by Marshall Ramsey, The Clarion Ledger
Cartoon by Marshall Ramsey, The Clarion Ledger
Button: Hail To The Thieves
Button: Hail To The Thieves
 
Final Decision: Bush v. Gore, U.S. Supreme Court:
On Monday, December 11, the US Supreme Court heard arguments in Bush v. Gore, the case that would decide whether the Florida statewide hand recount, as ordered by the Florida Supreme Court on December 8, should resume. This case would essentially decide the winner of the 2000 Presidential election. If Gore won, the statewide manual recount would resume, and it was likely, though not guaranteed, that he could claim a large enough majority of the undervotes to overtake Bush. If Governor Bush won, the manual recount would be over and Gore would be out of options. Again, audio was made available to the media on the same day.
US Supreme Court: Bush v. Gore Oral Arguments
US Supreme Court: Bush v. Gore Oral Arguments:
sound Part 1 | Part 2
Cartoon by Don Wright, The Palm Beach Post
Cartoon by Don Wright, The Palm Beach Post

The following day, December 12, the US Supreme Court issued its complex ruling in Bush v. Gore:

Ruling on Florida Supreme Court Recount: Overturned 7-2
Seven Justices of the Court agreed that there were constitutional problems with the recount ordered by the Florida Supreme Court that demanded a remedy. Noting that the Equal Protection clause guarantees individuals that their ballots cannot be devalued by "later arbitrary and disparate treatment," the per curium opinion held 7-2 that the Florida Supreme Court's scheme for recounting ballots was unconstitutional. (per curium means a decision in which no judge is identified as the specific author). Even if the recount was fair in theory, it was unfair in practice. The record suggested that different standards were applied from ballot to ballot, precinct to precinct, and county to county. The Florida Supreme Court ruling was overturned.

Justices in the majority: Rehnquist, Scalia, Thomas, O’Connor, Kennedy, Breyer, Souter
Justices dissenting: Ginsburg, Stevens

Ruling on Fashioning a New Recount Procedure: No, 5-4
The recount as ordered by the Florida Supreme Court had now been declared unconstitutional by a 7-2 vote.  Could a new recount procedure that was constitutional be fashioned in the time remaining?  (which was short because the Florida legislature wanted to take advantage of the "safe harbor" provided by 3 USC Section 5).   By a vote of 5-4, the court held that no constitutional recount could be fashioned in the time remaining.  The election dispute was essentially over. Gore had run out of options.

Justices in the majority: Rehnquist, Scalia, Thomas, O’Connor, Kennedy
Justices dissenting: Breyer, Souter (they believed that a constitutional recount could be fashioned, and that time is insubstantial when constitutional rights are at stake.
Justices already having dissented above: Ginsburg, Stevens

Cartoon by Daryl Cagle,-The Honolulu Advertiser
Cartoon by Daryl Cagle,-The Honolulu Advertiser
Cartoon by Lalo Alcaraz, LA Cucaracha
Cartoon by Lalo Alcaraz, LA Cucaracha
Button: Bush's Bozos (the 5 justices in the majority)
Button: Bush's Bozos (the 5 justices in the majority)

Additional Arguments
Rehnquist (in a concurring opinion joined by Scalia and Thomas) argued that the recount scheme was also unconstitutional because the Florida Supreme Court's decision made new election law, which only the state legislature may do.

Ginsburg and Stevens (writing separately) argued that for reasons of federalism, the Florida Supreme Court's decision ought to be respected. Moreover, the Florida decision was fundamentally right; the Constitution requires that every vote be counted.

 
The Concession: On December 13, Vice President Al Gore announced in a nationally televised speech that he accepted Bush as the 43 president of the United States. Ironically, the Vice President was lauded for his poise and grace, praise he rarely (if ever) received during the regular campaign. President-elect Bush also took to the airwaves and pledged to deliver reconciliation and unity to the nation. Finally, five weeks after it began, the election was over. Bush's victory made him just the second son of a president to become president. Gore became the fourth candidate in history to win the popular vote, but lose in the Electoral College. He won the national popular vote by more than 300,000 ballots.
Vice President Al Gore's Concession
sound Vice President Al Gore's Concession
President-elect Bush in Austin, TX
sound President-elect Bush Victory Speech in Austin, TX
 
Electoral College: On December 18, the Electoral College met and cast their votes for the President. On January 6, Congress met in joint session to to conduct an official tally of the electoral votes, with George W. Bush the winner. He was inaugurated the nation's 43rd president on January 20.
 
Follow-up: Who really won?....it depends
Since the conclusion of the election dispute, several studies were performed on the punch card ballots in question. Whether or not Gore would have won in a statewide manual recount depends on what type of standard you want to apply to what constituted a vote (dimpled, hanging, pregnant, etc.). For the results of one study, go to:
http://www.nytimes.com/images/2001/11/12/politics/recount/index.html
 
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