Al Gore and George W. Bush, Debate 2000



Tim Russert, TV Journalist for NBC, predicted that the outcome of the presidential race between nominees George W. Bush (Republican) and Al Gore (Democrat) would depend on “Florida, Florida, Florida.” It did, but not in a way anyone anticipated.

retro-bush-vs-gore_sm.jpgLittle did he or anyone else expect the “month of the hanging chards,” speaking of the importance of those tiny bits of material, when punched out, produce readable numbers on certain voting machines. 

The polls had hardly closed in California before the major networks, basing their call on exit polls in Florida, predicted a victory for Gore.

Alas, their call neglected to include Florida’s arcane rules governing overseas absentee ballots.

Some of the ballots cast in Florida and overseas had chads barely held by a thread of material and had to be argued over by two teams of opposing adherents wielding magnifying glasses.ElectoralCollege2000_sm.jpg

Because of the resulting razor-thin margin, Florida law demanded a recount. This went on for eight days.

47 lawsuits were subsequently filed, and a ruling by the U.S. Supreme court decided in favor of Bush, five to four, halting the recount, because Florida’s counties had followed differing methods of counting votes.

Scholars will argue the outcome forever, for it was finally determined that Gore had actually garnered more votes than Bush. No matter. By then, Gore had long since conceded and the Supreme Court’s ruling was cast in concrete.

An important lesson or two may still lurk in this quandary.

-Phil Richardson, Storyteller and Observer of the Human Condition.


Our unending thanks to Jim Bromley, who programs our Archive of Prior Commentaries

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