October 22nd, 2016

Bush v. Gore

During the discussion here and elsewhere about Trump’s debate remarks in which he refused to pledge to accept the election results, various people brought up the case of the 2000 election and Gore’s concession and then un-concession. They seemed to consider that to be some sort of analogy. I needed to refresh my memory on the details, and it’s pretty clear to me that a lot of people are in need of a little refreshment, too.

So I suggest you read that link I just gave you. The situation was complex, of course, and probably far more complex than you remember. It was actually a perfect storm of strange and unlikely events, although I suppose Murphy’s Law was operating rather heavily.

As I said, I suggest you read up. But here’s an excerpt that barely scratches the surface, to get you started:

The controversy began on election night, when the national television networks, using information provided to them by the Voter News Service, an organization formed by the Associated Press to help determine the outcome of the election through early result tallies and exit polling, first called Florida for Gore in the hour after polls closed in the eastern peninsula (which is in the Eastern time zone) but before they had closed in the heavily Republican counties of the western panhandle (which is in the Central time zone). Once the polls had closed in the panhandle, the networks reversed their call, giving it to Bush; then they retracted that call as well, finally indicating the state was “too close to call”.

So Gore wasn’t just being a sore loser when he rescinded the concession he had given to Bush privately in an earlier phone call based on the error the news outlets had made. In fact, the vote was a virtual tie, so close and so iffy that an automatic recount mandated by Florida law was triggered. Recounts are mandated for a reason, and that reason is not capricious—once a vote is that close, it is really pretty much of a statistical tie and a recount could reverse it.

So, even if Gore hadn’t phoned Bush to undo his concession, the recount would have rescinded it for him, at least temporarily [emphasis mine]:

Bush won the election-night vote count in Florida by 1,784 votes. The small margin produced an automatic recount under Florida state law. Once it became clear that Florida would decide the presidential election, the nation’s attention focused on the recount…

…charges were raised that some irregularities favored Bush. Among these was the Palm Beach “butterfly ballot,” which some pundits claimed produced an “unexpectedly” large number of votes for third-party candidate Pat Buchanan…

…there was a purge from the Florida voting rolls of over 54,000 citizens identified as felons, of whom 54% were African-American, and that the majority of these were not felons and should have been eligible to vote under Florida law. (It was widely presumed that had they been able to express themselves at the polls, most would have chosen the Democratic candidate). Additionally, there were charges that there were many more “overvotes” than usual, especially in predominantly African-American precincts in Duval county (Jacksonville), where some 27,000 ballots showed two or more choices for President. Unlike the much-discussed Palm Beach County butterfly ballot, the Duval County ballot spread choices for President over two pages with instructions to “vote on every page” on the bottom of each page…

Due to the narrow margin of the original vote count, Florida Election Code 102.141 mandated a statewide machine recount. In addition, the Gore campaign requested that the votes in three counties be recounted by hand. Florida state law at the time allowed the candidate to request a manual recount by protesting the results of at least three precincts. The county canvassing board would then decide whether to recount as well as the method of the recount in those three precincts. If the board discovered an error, they were then authorized to recount the ballots.

Once the closeness of the election in Florida was clear, both the Bush and Gore campaigns organized themselves for the ensuing legal process.

So, to recap: it was that mandated, automatic, legal process that ended up triggering the suit that decided the winner, via SCOTUS. It was not some renegade act of Gore’s, some petulance in not accepting an election because of Gore’s own idiosyncratic take on it.

[NOTE: Trump could easily have said in that debate that of course he will abide by all the legalities when reacting to the results of the election, and that would have covered it. In fact, he later did say something of the sort in a speech:

Of course, I would accept a clear election result, but I would also reserve my right to contest or file a legal challenge in the case of a questionable result,” Trump said. “And always, I will follow and abide by all of the rules and traditions of all of the many candidates who have come before me.

Trump said that after he was widely excoriated for his previous remarks during the debate, and after he had repeated the problem of the debate by saying (in that same speech; not in the debate) that he’d abide by the election results—if he wins. The corrective, sober, thoughtful paragraph of Trump’s that I quoted above was almost certainly not an ad-lib, and my guess is that it was written by others, although I cannot be sure.]

27 Responses to “Bush v. Gore”

  1. Steve S Says:

    That “butterfly ballot” thing has always irritated me.

    I detest claims that “the voters were confused,” so I took a look at the Palm Beach County vote tallies back then. There were Reform Party candidates down-ticket in Palm Beach County, too, and they all obtained more votes than Buchanan did at the top of the ticket. If this ballot design facilitated Gore votes going to Buchanan, it would equally facilitate Buchanan votes going to Gore. Couple that with the higher Reform Party vote count down-ticket, and we have a better circumstantial case that Gore actually stole votes from Buchanan; at least better case than the pure supposition of Gore losing votes to Buchanan.

    Plus, the Palm Beach folks were getting really ticked off at being portrayed nationally as a bunch clueless illiterates.

  2. snopercod Says:

    Gore will always and forever be a sore loser…in many areas.

  3. donkatsu Says:

    Neo, Steve,
    My mother lived in PB Country in 2000. Her development was actually a precinct, so it was possible to know just how people voted there.

    She told me that the Dem party people came to the clubhouse with a sample ballot from Broward County, where Gore was indeed the second hole to punch. They told the oldies to punch the second hole. In PB that was Pugnacious Pat Buchanan. Now, her precinct was about 95% Jewish, and last I heard, Pat’s opinions about us were pretty well known, even the in the dark ages of 2000. He received 75 votes out of about 500 cast in that precinct.

    My mother, with her stage perfect Boston accent observed: “theah just stoopid”

    PS, by 2004 this place had doubled in size, to about 1000 voters, still overwhelmingly Jewish. W collect 450 of those votes and the only person owning up to voting Republican was my mother’s neighbor. So much for exit polls.

    Totally OT, if she were still with us she would pronounce our Iowan correspondent’s name as “konnhedd”.

  4. Steve D Says:

    ‘it is really pretty much of a statistical tie and a recount could reverse it.’

    Statistics deals with samples of larger population. In this case we are considering the entire population of votes in Florida so statistics is not relevant.

  5. parker Says:

    I faithfully watched the FLA court proceedings and the recounts on CSPAN. Team Gore lost fair and square in the battle of dangling and dented chads. SCOTUS was correct in its decision.

  6. Oldflyer Says:

    Of course an automatic recount would have occurred in Florida. That fact had nothing to do with what Gore and the Democrats perpetuated thereafter.

    I think I have made it clear that I am not an admirer of Trump, and believe that he has a terrible habit of speaking before he thinks through what he should say. Still, to beat him up over this, and ignore 2000 is just wrong, if not hypocritical.

    Gore put the country through hell. I still maintain that his antics probably contributed to 9-11, because it seriously delayed Bush in getting his administration organized, and left precious little time for his team to overcome the Clinton intelligence and defense failures. So there.

  7. snopercod Says:

    Florida Statutes were very clear on the procedures to follow in that election. The FL supreme (kangaroo) court just decided to ignore the statutes and make up their own law. Thankfully, SCOTUS slapped them down.

  8. snopercod Says:

    Neo: Wikipedia? Really???

  9. Bob_CA Says:

    Following up on Snopercod’s comment, Neo you have it wrong.

    The article you quote leaves out the pivotal role of the Florida Supreme Court in the debacle. Yes Florida law requires one recount but IIRC, the Florida Supremes ordered 5 or 6 recounts, all of which showed Gore losing. It was clear that they were prepared to continue ordering more recounts until the Democrat operatives on the ground could generate enough votes to hand it to Gore. This is what forced the Bush team to go to the US Supremes to try to rein in the Florida court.

  10. blert Says:

    Of course the clarification was ‘staffed out.’

    Barry can’t speak without his Teleprompters.

    That’s been obvious eight straight years.

    Trump will, if president, be reading from such scripts almost exclusively.

    For his pals will explain to him that as President, he has to speak to many factions at the same time — foreign and domestic.

    Free wheeling thinking and speaking blows up.

    As President, he’s forced to chronically deal with over-exposure.

    &&&

    BTW, it’s pretty clear that President Rodrigo Duterte has entirely leaked the TPP to Red China — its object.

    Consequently, Beijing gave Duterte the royal treatment, Nixonian in splendor.

    A compromised TPP is essentially a worthless TPP.

    The breakup between Manilla and Washington is turning on this issue.

    Barry MUST be fuming.

    For now Red China will be pulling every string in the book to sabotage the TPP. That largely means bribes all across the Third World — an not a few shekels in the First World, too.

    President Rodrigo Duterte is crazier than anyone’s imagined Trump. For standing between elephants — one gets crushed.

    Red China is in absolutely no position no financially bail out Duterte. He’s got that all wrong. Pakistan might explain it to him one fine day.

  11. Ymarsakar Says:

    I still maintain that his antics probably contributed to 9-11, because it seriously delayed Bush in getting his administration organized, and left precious little time for his team to overcome the Clinton intelligence and defense failures. So there.

    The clintons intentionally ransacked the White House and left Bush II with no follow up team. It’s been well documented. Hussein got much better support from Bush II, which is why you saw Hussein take off with his agenda fast.

  12. TommyJay Says:

    An automatic recount does not require an army of lawyers airlifted into FL, which is what happened. The FL supreme court ordered a cherry picked recount in direct violation of FL law. The Chief Justice in FL wrote a scathing dissent of the decision. The worst thing that happened, IMHO, is that team Gore went to great lengths to disenfranchise our armed men and women serving overseas. This sad trend then continued in many following elections. Then there are the years of denial about Bush’s legitimacy which was nicely chronicled by Joe Scarboro’s rant on MSNBC recently.

    PS: You can’t go back to “research it” and then only read the revisionist history.

  13. blert Says:

    Bob_CA Says:
    October 22nd, 2016 at 6:43 pm

    Following up on Snopercod’s comment, Neo you have it wrong.

    The article you quote leaves out the pivotal role of the Florida Supreme Court in the debacle. Yes Florida law requires one recount but IIRC, the Florida Supremes ordered 5 or 6 recounts, all of which showed Gore losing. It was clear that they were prepared to continue ordering more recounts until the Democrat operatives on the ground could generate enough votes to hand it to Gore. This is what forced the Bush team to go to the US Supremes to try to rein in the Florida court.

    %%%%

    Absolutely correct.

    FURTHER.

    These were SELECTIVE recounts. They were only happening in areas wholly dominated by the Democrat big city machine. (Miami)

    There were THOUSANDS of mis-handled military ballots that were excluded from the tallies — all of them.

    EVERY election, the Democrats delay, as much as possible, the issuance of military ballots. ( USN in particular ) Then Democrats within the USPS do everything they can to process those mailed back as true snail mail.

    This has been going on for many, many, many years.

    IIRC something like 50,000 ballots were sand bagged in 2000 by this process.

    Yes, over the years, now that Veterans are no longer given preference for USPS slots, all such jobs have been given over to demographics that vote Democrat.

    This means that EVERYWHERE in the nation, they, Democrat USPS workers, are in the position to hold back all ballots from Zip Codes known to GOP bastions.

    It’s for THIS reason that the USPS and the Democra machine has been pushing mail in ballots so strongly.

    This gambit has to be stopped. It’s a direct threat to the integrity of the tabulation.

    It’s simple Simon because many folks mail their ballots in late in the process. All that is required is for ten bags of such ballots in a GOP bastion to be held back — 48 hours — and — then they’re too late.

    There is NO WAY for the GOP to monitor the integrity of Democrat USPS bastions.

  14. Matt_SE Says:

    Sore/Loserman, 2016!

  15. blert Says:

    It’s for the above reason that I request a mail in ballot — and then fill it out at my leisure — and then I walk it in. My polling booth is but 1/4 mile away.

  16. parker Says:

    I always vote on election day, and I am opposed to early voting and absentee voting except for members of the military. I would like to see voting take place on Saturday and Sunday. Plus, I would like an option to cast my vote for none of the above. That would be a popular option this season.

  17. lynndh Says:

    It would have been nice if the talk about Gore winning would have stopped in 2000. However, some Dems still claim that Gore won, including I believe recently Hillary. This is just another tempest in a Dem teapot.

  18. Assistant Village Idiot Says:

    I agree that wikipedia is biased, but precisely because of that, find it useful to quote them. It gets us away from the distraction of “oh that’s just a right-wing echo-chamber source.”

    I agree with most of what has been said here, but have three things to add. Votes move in a a recount, but not by much. Mistakes here and there get uncovered and corrected. These are seldom large. To move enough votes to get a Gore victory, some major error or some fairly sizable change would have had to have been discovered. Because even a solid precinct seldom breaks more than 65-35, more than one box of missed ballots would have to be found, or some category of ballots disallowed. However, unsupervised chicanery over even a single box could move lots of votes, and treating many boxes of votes from Democratic precincts very roughly could loosen the chads and gain a few votes each. that is why the stories of boxes being put into Democratic operative’s trunks or behind unavailable doors were pertinent.

    Second, the SCOTUS vote was not 5-4. It was 7-2 on the more important Equal Protection Clause and 5-4 on the opinion of whether there was enough time.

    Thirdly, and in the opposite direction of what I wrote above, there are always way more spoiled ballots in African-American districts. Voters will both punch the hole and write in the name of Al Gore, for example. It is clear who they wanted to vote for, but the ballot is invalid. The Democrats obviously know this, but did not dare say it, probably because to the long-term electoral consequences. Had those votes counted, Gore might indeed have won.

  19. Bob_CA Says:

    I did not finish my point in my last post. The reason that the many recounts ordered by the Florida Supremes is significant is because their orders were due to actions by Gore’s lawyers or their proxies in the FL democrat party. So no–Al Gore did not accept the results of the election and if he had his way they would have kept on counting until the results were overturned by his operatives manufacturing votes.

    AVI says: “Votes move in a a recount, but not by much.”

    IIRC the margin in the last recount had been whittled down to around 150 votes in favor of Bush–from several thousand at the end of the first counting. This few votes could easily be found in a Democrat election workers trunk–as they were in the stolen Norm Coleman-Al Franken Senate election in Minnesota. IIRC similar things happened in the 2004 governor election in Washington state stolen from the Republican Dino Rossi by dirty tricks in the heavily Democrat Seattle area.

  20. neo-neocon Says:

    Bob_CA:

    I was not focusing on the SCOTUS decision in this post. That was on purpose, because what I was getting at was a response to people who were criticizing Gore for conceding and then taking his concession back. My point was that he was right to do that, and that the situation is not analogous to what Trump was talking about.

  21. neo-neocon Says:

    snopercod:

    Wiki is a fairly reliable source for a lot of things (not everything). It gives a good overview on certain topics, and although in the beginning I didn’t like to use it much, I have found over the years that the majority of the time it’s pretty decent.

  22. Dennis Says:

    With the obligatory disclaimer that I did not support Trump in the primaries and still don’t like him, he is right that the election is rigged and no one should accept it as legitimate. That does not mean I will riot if Hillary wins but I won’t accept a person who should have been indicted for her mishandling of classified material and for lying to congress as a legitimate president.

  23. Mike K Says:

    I still maintain that his antics probably contributed to 9-11, because it seriously delayed Bush in getting his administration organized, and left precious little time for his team to overcome the Clinton intelligence and defense failures. So there.

    Absolutely right !

    Rumsfeld had no appointees up to July in the Pentagon.

  24. Phil Christensen Says:

    Ah, the “butterfly ballot.” I remember fondly the Democrat voters who could not wait to get in front of this committee or that and proudly display their stupidity.

    http://manningthewall.com
    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUDY17Xg_Ix5kaenkryh63g
    https://twitter.com/manningthewall

  25. Artfldgr Says:

    the left was first to break the traditions as the left hates all traditions… then after that, they want ot hold others to the old way? heck… twerking is the key here… 🙂

  26. Big Maq Says:

    “the left was first to break the traditions as the left hates all traditions… then after that, they want ot hold others to the old way? heck… twerking is the key here” – Art

    This year has laid plain to see that the left don’t hold a monopoly on these things.

  27. Ymarsakar Says:

    The idea that people are finding out that humans are humans in this decade, is what amuses me.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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