Following a highly divisive election campaign, in the 2000 presidential elections George W. Bush won over Vice‐President Al Gore with a small majority of votes in the electoral college, but with a minority of the popular vote. The most controversial element of the victory, however, concerned the decisive vote count in the state of Florida, which either candidate needed to win for a majority in the electoral college. After the first count, Bush was declared the winner by a majority of 500 out of five million votes. After the first recount, this majority was significantly reduced, but with the overseas votes (largely from the military) now factored in, Bush was again declared the winner by just over 500 votes. Confusion arose because different counties used different counting methods and different voting forms. In a number of pro‐Gore counties, many voting machines were old and failed to record the marks of election ballots. Attention focused on individual counties that appeared to under‐represent Gore's vote.
Gore's legal team tried to effect manual recounts. The state political authorities, headed by Bush's brother, Governor Jeb Bush, and George W. Bush's legal team sought to avoid this at a political level and in the courts. The Florida Supreme Court was inclined to allow widespread recounts, but on 11 December 2001, the US Supreme Court decided that the state Supreme Court was interfering in the political process. This action effectively put an end to Gore's challenge, and the latter conceded defeat. The case marked an unprecedented and highly controversial intervention in the political realm by the Supreme Court, which before had only been prepared to intervene in the political arena under conditions of unanimity among the judges, as happened at Watergate. The votes have been subjected to several recounts by newspapers and other organizations. These have failed to produce conclusive evidence about who actually won the most votes in Florida, though there has been a slight bias in favour of Bush.
Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).