Donald Trump said Wednesday, November 4, he will go to the Supreme Court to dispute the US election count.
If he does, it could turn out to be only the second time in history that the court has decided the winner. In 2000, George W. Bush only beat Democrat Al Gore after 5 weeks of legal battles over recounts and “hanging chad” votes.
All eyes on Florida
On election day, November 7, 2000, polls have Republican candidate Bush, governor of Texas, leading Democratic vice president Gore by a whisker.
As the night develops, tensions rise as several states report very tight results.
Television networks declare Gore the winner in Florida only to backtrack soon after, judging it too close to call.
A few hours later they call Florida again, giving the victory to Bush, which means he wins the presidency.
Gore calls Bush to concede.
But then the networks backtrack a second time, and Gore calls Bush again to withdraw his concession.
The Florida results are in limbo. The two candidates are separated by less than 0.5% of votes, forcing a machine recount of all the punch-card ballots.
Several irregularities are exposed in the state, which is governed by Bush’s brother Jeb.
On November 9, Gore calls for a manual recount in 4 strongly Democratic counties, including Palm Beach. Bush appeals, but it is dismissed by a federal judge.
The legal battle begins in earnest. Lawyers arrive en masse in Florida.
In the spotlight: the punch machines used in Palm Beach County to perforate the ballot paper. They show a rate of error too high for such a close vote.
Counting machines rejected thousands of ballots often due to machine malfunction or because voters failed to fully puncture the mark next to their chosen candidate, leaving only a “pregnant chad,” or partially perforated it, leaving a “hanging chad.”
Bush’s advisers slam irregularities in the counting, claiming the Democrats are trying to invalidate 25,000 postal votes from two Republican counties over a technicality.
On November 26, Florida declares Bush the winner, with 537 more votes. Gore contests the result, arguing thousands of votes have not been counted.
On December 8, Florida’s Supreme Court agrees with Gore and orders a manual recount of 45,000 ballots that were rejected by the machines.
Supreme Court decides
On December 12, the US Supreme Court steps in for the first time ever in a presidential election.
In a landmark judgement it rejects Florida’s recount and in doing so effectively shuts the door on Gore’s quest for the presidency.
“Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner… the identity of the loser is perfectly clear,” writes Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens in a dissenting opinion.
“It is the nation’s confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law.”
On December 18, Bush is elected the 43rd US president by the electoral college, with 271 of the 270 required votes, although Gore won the popular vote.
Civil rights leader Jesse Jackson says the election was “stolen.” – Rappler.com