|The Disputed Election of 2000
|Digital History ID 3377|
The presidential election of 2000 hinged on the outcome in Florida. First, the television networks said that Vice President Al Gore had carried the state. Then, the state’s election was considered “too close to call.” Then, the networks declared Texas Governor George W. Bush the winner. The presidential election was so close that it took five weeks to determine the winner. Vice President Al Gore carried the East and West Coasts and inland industrial cities, while Texas Governor George W. Bush won much of the Midwest and Plains, as well as the South. Gore gained a half-million more votes than Bush, but Gore lost the Electoral College when he lost Florida. Bush's official margin in Florida was by 537 votes.
With the presidency hanging on a few hundred votes in a single state, there were lawsuits and requests for recounts. Bitter disputes centered on confusing ballots, missing names from voting rolls, and subjecting minority voters to multiple requests for identification. The punch card ballots posed a major problem--they were vulnerable to voter error. Many ballots were called into question because voters failed to punch a hole all the way through the ballot. In an extraordinary late-night decision, the U.S. Supreme Court halted a recount ordered by the Florida Supreme Court. A narrow majority of the Justices said that the recount ordered by the Florida Supreme Court violated the principle that “all votes must be treated equally.” It also ruled that there was not enough time to conduct a new count that would meet constitutional muster.
The 2000 presidential election was the first in 112 years in which a president lost the popular vote but captured enough states to win the electoral vote.
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