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U.S. presidential election, 2000

The 2000 U.S. Presidential election was one of the closest elections in the
history of the United States, contested primarily by then Texas Governor
George W. Bush (Republican), and then Vice President Al Gore (Democrat). The
election took over a month to resolve, highlighted by premature declaration
of a winner on election night, and an extremely close result in the state of
Florida. Florida's 25 electoral votes ultimately decided the election by a
razor thin margin of actual votes, and was certified only after numerous
court challenges and recounts. Despite Florida's vote certification, some
still disputed the final result (or even do to this day). Nonetheless, with
Florida's vote certification and the subsequent electoral college, the
presidency was won by George W. Bush.

  Presidential  Electoral                                      Running Mate
   Candidate       Vote    Popular Vote   Pct      Party        (Electoral
                                                                  Votes)
 George W. Bush                                               Richard
 (W)                   271   50,456,002  47.87 Republican     Cheney (271)
                                                              Joseph
 Al Gore               266   50,999,897  48.38 Democrat       Lieberman
                                                              (266)

 Ralph Nader             0    2,882,955   2.74 Green          Winona LaDuke
                                                              (0)
 Patrick J.                                                   Ezola Foster
 Buchanan                0      448,895   0.42 Reform         (0)

 Harry Browne            0      384,431   0.36 Libertarian    Art Olivier
                                                              (0)
 Howard                                                       J. Curtis
 Phillips                0       98,020   0.09 Constitution   Frazier (0)

 John Hagelin            0       83,714   0.08 Natural        Nat Goldhaber
                                               Law/Reform     (0)
 Other                   0       51,186   0.05
 No electoral
 vote cast (DC)          1
 Total                 538  105,405,100 100.00

     Final certified vote for the state of Florida (25 electoral votes)
     Presidential Candidate   Vote Total       Pct         Party
     George W. Bush (W)           2,912,790    48.850Republican
     Al Gore                      2,912,253    48.841Democrat
     Ralph Nader                     97,421     1.633Green
     Patrick J. Buchanan             17,412     0.292Reform
     Harry Browne                    16,102     0.270Libertarian
     John Hagelin                     2,274     0.038Natural Law/Reform
     Howard Phillips                  1,378     0.023Constitution
     Other                            3,027     0.051-
     Total                        5,962,657    100.00
              Source: CBS News State Results for Election 2000

Primaries

Minor Party Candidates

There were five other candidates on the majority of the 51 ballots (50
states plus the District of Columbia): Harry Browne (Libertarian, 50), Pat
Buchanan (Reform, 49), Ralph Nader (Green, 44), Howard Phillips
(Constitution, 41), and John Hagelin (Natural Law, 38).

Nader was the most successful of third party candidates, drawing 2.74% of
the popular vote. His campaign was marked by a traveling tour of
"super-rallies"; large rallies held in sports arenas like Madison Square
Garden, with filmmaker Michael Moore as master of ceremonies. After
initially ignoring Nader, the Gore campaign made a big publicity pitch to
(potential) Nader supporters in the final weeks of the campaign, downplaying
Gore's differences with Nader on the issues and claiming that Gore's ideas
were more similar to Nader's than Bush's were, noting that Gore had a better
chance of winning than Nader. In the aftermath of the campaign, many Gore
supporters blamed Nader for drawing enough would-be Gore votes to push Bush
over Gore, labeling Nader a "spoiler" candidate.

Overview, and timeline (election day and beyond)

The 2000 Presidential election was one of the closest elections in the
history of the United States. Other close elections include the elections of
1800, 1876, 1916, 1960, 1968, and 1976.

The results of the November 7 election were not known for more than a month
after the election, because the counting and recounting of Florida
presidential ballots, which swung the election, extended for more than a
month. The final (and disputed) official Florida count gave the victory to
Bush by 537 votes.

During the recounting process, the Bush campaign hired George H. W. Bush's
former Secretary of State James Baker to oversee the legal process, and the
Gore campaign hired Bill Clinton's former Secretary of State Warren
Christopher. Numerous local court rulings went both ways, some ordering
recounts because the vote was so close and others declaring that a selective
manual recount in a few heavily-Democratic counties would be unfair.
Eventually, the Gore campaign appealed to the Florida Supreme Court whose
liberal judges ordered that the recounting process proceed. The Bush
campaign subsequently appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States
which took up the case Bush v. Gore on December 1. On December 4, the court
nullified the decision of the Florida Supreme Court saying that the court's
decision to bypass state election laws, which stated that results had to be
certified by a certain date, was dubious at best saying that there was
"considerable uncertainty" as to the precise grounds for their ruling.

Early in the afternoon of December 12, the Republican-dominated Florida
House of Representatives voted nearly on party lines to certify the state's
electors for Bush. Later that afternoon, the Florida Supreme Court upheld
lower court rulings authorizing recounts in several south Florida counties.

All the lower court rulings became moot when around 10pm on December 12, the
U.S. Supreme Court handed down a 5-4 ideologically-split decision in favor
of Bush, effectively ending the election. The court's majority cited
differing vote-counting standards from county to county and the lack of a
single judicial officer to oversee the recount, both of which, it ruled,
violated the equal-protection clause of the United States Constitution.

At 9pm on December 13, in a nationally televised address, Gore conceded that
he lost his bid for the presidency. He asks his supporters to support Bush,
saying, "This is America, and we put country before party." During his
speech, Gore's family and Joe and Hadassah Lieberman stood quietly nearby.

Texas Governor George W. Bush became President-elect and began forming his
transition committee. Bush tried to reach across party lines and bridge a
divided America, stating that "the president of the United States is the
president of every single American, of every race and every background."
Bush took the oath of office on January 20, 2001.

Vice President Al Gore came in second even though he received a larger
number of popular votes. This was at least the fourth time that a candidate
who did not receive a plurality of the popular vote received a majority of
the electoral committee vote, the first time probably being in the 1824
elections although popular vote records do not exist for earlier elections.
Until this election, the 1876 elections had been the most contentious in
U.S. history.

The Electoral College vote was so close that a shift from Bush to Gore in
almost any state won by Bush would have swung the election to Gore (271
Electoral College votes for Bush and 266 for Gore). The national popular
vote count, which does not affect the outcome, was also very close (Gore got
500,000 more popular votes than Bush) and this contributed to the
controversy of the election.

Some have pointed out that if our system were based on the popular vote,
rather than the electoral college, then the turnout of voters would have
been different. Voter turnout in states that favor one party heavily tends
to be lower. Because of this, the popular vote cannot be used to predict who
would have won an actual popular vote election.

The Florida vote was the closest of all of the states and state law provided
for an automatic recount due to the small difference, and there were general
concerns about the fairness and accuracy of the voting process, especially
since a small change in the vote count could change the result. The
Democratic Party lodged a dispute over the state's election results
requesting that disputed ballots in three heavily-Democratic counties be
counted by hand. However, in a 5-to-4 decision, the Supreme Court of the
United States ultimately decided to halt recounting efforts in those
counties because any recount could not be completed in a constitutional manner.

Florida election results

On election night, it quickly became clear that Florida would be a
contentious state. The national television networks, through information
provided them by the Voter News Service first called Florida for Gore, then
Bush, then as 'too close to call'. The Voter News Service was an
organization backed and supported by television networks and the Associated
Press to help determine the results of presidential elections as early as
possible, through early result tallies and exit polling.

Controversy in Florida

   * There were a number of overseas ballots missing postmarks or filled out
     in such a way that they were invalid under Florida law. A poll worker
     filled out the missing information on some hundred of these ballots.
     The Democrats moved to have all overseas ballots thrown out because of
     this. These disputes added to the mass of litigation between parties to
     influence the counting of ballots. The largest group of disputed
     overseas ballots were military ballots, which the Republicans argued to
     have accepted.

   * Some 179,855 ballots were not counted in the official tally. These were
     ballots which were mistakenly filled out, however, in some counties the
     voting machines (Accuvotes) would return the ballot and allow voters to
     try again, whilst in other counties the reject mechanisms were not
     enabled, thus giving voters only one chance to correctly mark the
     ballot. As a general trend, reject mechanisms were disabled in
     disproportionately African-American and Hispanic counties.

   * 57,700 voters were incorrectly listed as felons on a "scrub list" and
     thus their votes were not counted. (In some cases, the alleged felonies
     were dated several years after the election and the vast majority of
     the listed were not felons.) These persons were disproportionately
     Democrats of African-American and Hispanic descent. Furthermore, an
     additional 8,000 non-felons had been supplied by the state of Texas,
     via Database Technologies, and these people were added to the list in
     May 2000; these 8,000 were later removed from the list following a
     story by the Palm Beach Post. 714 Illinoians and 990 Ohians were added
     in the same fashion and not removed.

   * Jeb Bush, the brother of George W. Bush, was governor of Florida,
     leading some Gore advocates to make various allegations of impropriety,
     especially due to their joint campaigning for the Republican vote in
     Florida and Jeb Bush's assurances to George W. Bush that the
     Republicans could win Florida. It is typical for sitting governors to
     strongly campaign on behalf of the candidate with the same party
     affiliation.

   * A suit by NAACP (NAACP v. Harris) argued that Florida was in violation
     of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the US Constitution's Equal
     Protection Amendment. Settlement agreements were reached in this suit.

   * Others, such as Washington County Elections Chief Carol Griffen (1
     p.25), have argued that Florida was in violation of the National Voter
     Registration Act of 1993 by requiring those convicted of felonies in
     other states (and subsequently restored their rights by said states),
     to request clemency and a restoration of their rights, from Governor
     Bush, in a process which might take 2 years and ultimately was left to
     Bush's discretion. One should note Schlenther v. Florida Department of
     State (June 1998) which ruled that Florida could not prevent a man
     convicted of a felony in Connecticut, where his civil rights had not
     been lost, from exercising his civil rights.

   * Several months after the election, the Palm Beach Post announced that
     thousands of felons had voted in favour of Gore. Those who disagree
     with the newspaper, argue that the Post used an invalid list provided
     by the ChoicePoint corporation and that nobody has been arrested for
     illegally voting.

   * The television news media called the state for Al Gore around 9:00pm
     EST, while voters in the western panhandle (which is in the Central
     Time Zone) of the state were still voting, potentially depressing the
     voter turnout. This region of the state is mostly Republican.

   * Due to the narrow margin of the original vote count, Florida law
     mandated a statewide recount. In addition, the Gore campaign requested
     that the votes in 3 counties be recounted by hand, which is within
     their rights under Florida election law. The Bush campaign then sued in
     federal court to stop the hand recounts. This case eventually reached
     the United States Supreme Court, which ruled 5-4 to stop the vote
     count, effectively declaring Bush the winner. The US supreme court also
     found that the additional recounts requested by Gore to be
     unconstitutional, in a 7-2 vote. Ultimately, Gore conceded the election
     and asked that his supporters also acknowledge Bush as the new
     president.

More On Ballots

     "The result of the 2000 U.S. Presidential race was so close that some
     Democratic Party officials argue that one Florida county's hard-to-use
     ballot may have unfairly decided the presidency. Critics argue that
     some voters in Palm Beach County, Fla. might have accidentally voted
     for Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan, when they thought they were
     voting for Al Gore. The Democrats are listed second in the left column;
     but punching a hole in the second circle actually cast a vote for
     Buchanan."[1]. In response, others point out that the ballot was
     designed by a Democrat, Theresa Lapore who was not a political
     individual but to be elected to here job in her county it was essential
     to be a Democrat. The ballot was also approved by a representative of
     both major parties. Fox News reported on an informal study where 74
     eight year-olds were asked to vote for their favorite Disney
     characters, using an similar ballot. All the children were
     successful[2]. But this study proves very little as the ballots used by
     the children were far simpler than those in the election as they were
     made of only one page and did not list anything comparable to Vice
     Presidential candidates.

In 2003, US citizens living in the state of Florida were asked who they
voted for in the 2000 Election as part of the Statistical Abstract Census.
The results showed President Bush receiving more than 1000 votes more than
former Vice President Gore.

Greg Palast provides the following chart in his book The Best Democracy
Money Can Buy:

Counties with 25%+ African-American Residents

   * Gadsden
        o 12% of ballots uncounted
   * Hamilton
        o 9% of ballots uncounted
   * Jackson
        o 7% of ballots uncounted
   * Madison
        o 7% of ballots uncounted

Counties with 95%+ Caucasian Residents

   * Citrus
        o 0.5% of ballots uncounted
   * Pasco
        o 3% of ballots uncounted
   * Santa Rosa
        o 1% of ballots uncounted
   * Sarasota
        o 2% of ballots uncounted

Major Campaign Sponsors

Republican Party

   * AT&T -- $2,702,871
   * Global Crossing -- $967,293
   * Microsoft -- $1,586,635
   * Philip Morris -- $2,124,562

Democratic Party

   * AT&T -- $1,924,545
   * Global Crossing -- $1,261,152
   * Microsoft -- $1,276,413
   * Goldman Sachs -- $1,291,975

Media post-electoral studies/recounts

Several studies after the elections were performed by various media
organizations. They should be expanded upon here.
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