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Thirty Six Days of Uncertainty
In an era of "permanent campaigns" the election of 2000 witnessed a new phase, the post-election campaign.  For days, then weeks, then an entire month, teams of lawyers for the Bush and Gore camps fought to determine who would win Florida's 25 electoral votes.  The wrangling continued until the night of Dec. 12, when a divided U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Bush v. Gore.  The next evening Vice President Gore in Washington and Gov. Bush in Texas delivered speeches.

Florida moved to the fore on Election Night as the networks first called the state for Vice President Gore, then rescinded the call, then called it for Gov. Bush.  Returns at the end of the evening showed Bush leading Gore by just 1,784 votes (2,909,135 to 2,907,351) out of nearly six million cast.

Both sides quickly brought in heavyweights to oversee their strategies; leading the Bush forces was former Secretary of State James A. Baker, III, a senior partner at Baker Botts LLP, while former Secretary of State Warren M. Christopher, a senior partner at O'Melveny & Myers LLP, oversaw strategy for the Gore camp.  Democrats initiated recounts in several key counties.  The two sides mobilized teams of lawyers.  Lawsuits quickly proliferated.  Tense, tedious recounts ground on, ballot by ballot, hour by hour, day by day.  Chads, those little chips of paper punched out of the ballot by the stylus, became a subject of fascination in their various forms, whether pregnant, dimpled or hanging; there were even reports of chad eating.  Meanwhile, Florida's 25 electoral votes and the presidency remained in the balance.

On Nov. 26, Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris certified Gov. Bush as the winner by a margin of 537 votes (2,912,790 votes for Bush to 2,912,253 for Gore); however even then Gore did not give up.  He contested the result.  The legal wrangling continued, but time was running out as the meeting of the electors on Dec. 18 approached.  The Florida legislature entered the fray, holding a special session starting on December 8.  Under direction of the Florida Supreme Court a partial recount began, but the Bush team applied to the U.S. Supreme Court for a stay.  With the Court's ruling on Dec. 12, Gore ran out of options. 

The weeks between Election Day and the meeting of the electors normally pass without notice; the Electoral College has been seen as largely a pro forma exercise.  This year was different.  The period of uncertainty produced heated passions and intemperate rhetoric and hampered and perhaps harmed the transition.  On the plus side, the nation was treated to an unparalleled civics lesson, illustrating the importance of the individual vote, highlighting the need for up-to-date voting systems (and the funding to pay for them), and raising questions about the Electoral College system. 

The Contenders
Gov. Bush speech from the Chamber of the Texas House of Representatives, Austin, TX  Dec. 13, 2000
Vice President Gore speech from the Old Executive Office Building, Washington, DC  Dec. 13, 2000
Vice President Gore statement, Nov. 27, 2000
Gov. Bush remarks, Nov. 26, 2000

FindLaw's "Election 2000: Special Coverage--The Lawsuits"
U.S. Supreme Court
Supreme Court of Florida
First District Court of Appeal
Circuit Court for Leon County
Circuit Court for Palm Beach County
U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit (Atlanta)
United States District Court Southern District of Florida

Election Officials
Florida Secretary of State
Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections
Volusia County Elections Department
Miami-Dade County Supervisor of Elections
Broward County Supervisor of Elections
Seminole County Supervisor of Elections

Florida Legislature
2000 Florida Statutes--Title IX Electors and Elections

Interest Groups
Citizens for True Democracy's (contact electors)
Florida Democratic Party's "Count Our Votes!"'s "Trust the People"
RepublicanPac. com's "Hey Al, take it like a man"
Free Republic
Judicial Watch

Investigations by the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division into Allegations of Misconduct
The U.S. Department of Justice began receiving calls about the Florida situation on November 7; all told it received about 11,000 calls.  The Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division coordinated the department's response.   Eventually, as 2001 progressed, the Civil Rights Division opened 14 investigations into possible violations of federal voting rights laws in Florida and seven more investigations in other states.  By May 2002 it had closed ten of the Florida investigations and decided to pursue lawsuits in three; one matter remained under investigation.  Assistant Attorney General Ralph F. Boyd, Jr. summarized Civil Rights Division's actions in a June 7, 2002 letter to Sen. Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

NAACP, ACLU and Other Organizations File Lawsuit to End Unfair Voting Practices in Florida (Jan. 10, 2001)
The class action suit (01-CIV-120-GOLD), filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, charges violations of the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1960 and Florida statutes.

US Civil Rights Commission Investigation into Allegations of Voting Irregularities in Florida
Hearings held in Tallahassee on Jan. 11-12, 2001 and in Miami on Feb. 16, 2001.  The commission heard about 30 hours of sworn testimony from more than 100 witnesses and reviewed more than 118,000 pages of documents.  In its June 8, 2001 meeting, the commission reviewed the draft report and approved it by a 6-2 vote.  The report found that "restrictive statutory provisions, wide-ranging errors, and inadequate resources in the Florida election process denied countless Floridians of their right to vote."  "This disenfranchisement of Florida's voters fell most harshly on the shoulders of African Americans," the report stated.  It called on the U.S. Department of Justice and Florida officials to investigate violations of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  However, controversy surrounded the commission's report.  It was leaked to several newspapers on June 4.  Commissioners Abigail Thernstrom and Russell G. Redenbaugh issued a statement terming the report "a deeply flawed and irresponsible analysis."  "Not a shred of the statistical evidence amounts to convincing proof that African Americans were discriminated against in the voting process," they stated.  Thernstrom and Redenbaugh issued a detailed critique on June 27: "In Dissent: A response to the Florida election report".  Final Report and Dissent: "Voting Irregularities in Florida During the 2000 Presidential Election."

The Florida Ballots Project
A group of eight news organizations--The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post Co., Tribune Publishing, CNN, Associated Press, St. Petersburg Times and The Palm Beach Post--set out to develop a database of the roughly 180,000 Florida ballots that did not register a vote for President, with the aim of producing "the definitive archive of the disputed ballots."  On Jan. 10, 2001, the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago was brought on to conduct the inventory.  In the following months, teams of coders examined and coded undervotes and overvotes from all counties totaling 175,010 ballots.  The news organizations reported their findings on Nov. 12, 2001.  Their analyses showed that if the recounts underway, but stopped by the U.S. Supreme Court, had been completed, Bush would still have won by a narrow margin, but if disputed ballots statewide had been recounted Gore would have eked out a slim majority. 

"Revitalizing Democracy in Florida" Report of the Select Task Force on Election Procedures, Standards and Technology (March 1, 2001)
Gov. Jeb Bush announced establishment of the 21-person Select Task Force on Election Procedures, Standards and Technology on Dec. 14, 2000.

Statisticians Look at the Palm Beach County Results

Florida was not unique; serious problems occurred with voting in other states, most notably in Chicago, Illinois and Atlanta, Georgia.

Books and Articles
More than a dozen books have been written on the post-election saga:       (Book Summaries)

E.J. Dionne, Jr. and William Kristol, eds.  February 19, 2001.  BUSH v. GORE: The Court Cases and The Commentary.  Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.

Correspondents of the New York Times.  February 23, 2001.  36 DAYS: The Complete Chronicle of the 2000 Presidential Election Crisis.  New York: Henry Holt & Company, Inc..

The Political Staff of the Washington Post.  March 6, 2001.  DEADLOCK: The Inside Story of America's Closest Election.  New York: PublicAffairs.

Jake Tapper.  April 2, 2001.  DOWN AND DIRTY: The Plot to Steal the Presidency.  New York: Little, Brown and Company.

Bill Sammon.  May 10, 2001.  AT ANY COST: How Al Gore Tried to Steal the Presidency.  Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, Inc.

Jeff Greenfield.  May 21, 2001.  OH, WAITER!  ONE ORDER OF CROW!: Inside the Strangest Presidential Election Finish in American History.  New York: Putnam Books.

Martin Merzer and the Staff of The Miami Herald.  June 1, 2001.  THE MIAMI HERALD REPORT: Democracy Held Hostage.  New York: St. Martin's Press.

Vincent Bugliosi.  June 1, 2001.  THE BETRAYAL OF AMERICA: How the Supreme Court Undermined the Constitution and Chose Our President.  New York: Thunder's Mouth Press.

Alan M. Derschowitz.  June 18, 2001.  SUPREME INJUSTICE: How the High Court Highjacked Election 2000.  New York: Oxford University Press.

Richard A. Posner.  September 5, 2001.  BREAKING THE DEADLOCK: The 2000 Election, the Constitution, and the Courts.  Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

Douglas Kellner.  September 28, 2001.  GRAND THEFT 2000: Media Spectacle and a Stolen Election.  Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.

Abner S. Greene.  October 1, 2001.  UNDERSTANDING THE 2000 ELECTION: A Guide to the Legal Battles that Decided the Presidency.  New York: New York University Press.

David A. Kaplan.  September 20, 2001.  THE ACCIDENTAL PRESIDENT: How 143 Lawyers, 9 Supreme Court Justices, and 5,963,110 Floridians (Give or Take a Few) Landed George W. Bush in the White House.  New York: William Morrow & Company.>

Jack N. Rakove, ed.  October 2001.  THE UNFINISHED ELECTION OF 2000: Leading Scholars Examine America's Strangest Election.  New York: Basic Books. 

Cass R. Sunstein and Richard A. Epstein, eds.  October 26, 2001.  THE VOTE: Bush, Gore, and the Supreme Court.  Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Howard Gillman.  October 31, 2001.  THE VOTES THAT COUNTED: How the Court Decided the 2000 Presidential Election.  Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Jeffrey Toobin.  October 2001.  TOO CLOSE TO CALL: The 36-Day Battle to Decide the 2000 Election.  New York: Random House.

Arthur Jacobson and Michel Rosenfeld, eds.  August / Fall 2002.  THE LONGEST NIGHT: Polemics and Perspectives on Election 2000.  Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press.

John Lantigua.  "How the GOP Gamed the System in Florida."  The Nation, April 30, 2001. >

Lawyers in Action
Dozens and dozens of lawyers worked on various aspects of the Florida legal battle, many on a volunteer basis.  Listed below are a few of the key ones.
Bush-Cheney Recount Fund
IRS Filing
Strategist   James A. Baker, III 
Sec. of State under President Bush (1989-92); Sec. of Treasury under President Reagan (1985-88).  Senior partner at Baker Botts LLP (Houston).  >>
Team of Lawyers including:
Barry S. Richard 
Greenberg Traurig, P.A. (Tallahassee) >>
Fred Bartlit
Bartlit Beck Herman Palenchar & Scott (Chicago)  >>
Philip Beck
Bartlit Beck Herman Palenchar & Scott (Chicago)   >>
Irvin Terrell 
Baker Botts LLP (Houston)
Daryl Bristow
Baker Botts LLP (Houston)
Theodore B. Olson
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP (Washington, DC)
Benjamin L. Ginsberg
Patton Boggs LLP (Washington, DC)

The Bush recount fund1 raised about $6 million; from over 35,000 individual contributions.  There was a contribution limit of $5,000. 

According to the Bush website, through Nov. 29, 2000 the Bush recount fund had raised $4,855,619. 


Gore-Lieberman Recount Committee
IRS Filing
Strategist   Warren M. Christopher
Sec. of State under President Clinton (1993-97); Dep. Sec. of State under President Carter.  Senior partner atO'Melveny & Myers LLP (Los Angeles).  >>

Ron Klain
Chief of staff to Vice President Gore from 1995-99; partner in Washington, DC office O'Melveny & Myers LLP from Oct. 1999; served as unpaid senior strategist to the campaign. >>

Lyn Utrecht 
(played key role in mobilizing volunteer lawyers) 
Counsel to Gore 2000 and general counsel to the Clinton campaigns in 1992 and 1996.  Ryan, Phillips, Utrecht & MacKinnon (Washington, DC).  >>

Mark Steinberg 
(coordinating work product)
Partner atO'Melveny & Myers LLP (Los Angeles).  >>

John D.C. Newton
Berger Davis & Singerman (Tallahassee)
Mitchell W. Berger
Berger Davis & Singerman (Tallahassee)
W. Dexter Douglass
Douglass Law Firm (Tallahassee)
David Boies
Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP (Armonk, NY)  >>
Jeffrey Robinson
Baach Robinson & Lewis (Washington, DC)
Lawrence H. Tribe
Harvard Law School
Kendall Coffey
(Miami) Former U.S Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; helped represent Elian Gonzalez' family in their efforts to keep him in the U.S..
Robert Bauer
Perkins Coie (Washington, DC office) / Counsel to the Demoratic Congressional Campaign Committee
Teresa Wynn Roseborough
Sutherland, Asbill & Brennan (Atlanta)
Joe Sandler
Sandler & Reiff, PC (Washington, DC) / General Counsel to the Democratic National Committee

The recount committee, a section 527 political committee formed on Nov. 8, raised a total of almost $3.7 million.  Gore's committee had no limit on contributions.  Nine contributors donated $100,000 or more (total of $1.5 million from the nine; the largest contributor was Steven T. Kirsch of Infoseek Corp at $500,000). 

Most of the money came in during the first three weeks; on Dec. 7, 2000 the recount committee reported that as of Nov. 27 it had raised $3,272,656 in 1,258 contributions.   (1,254 individual contributions and 4 PAC contributions; of these 1,018 contributors, or 81 percent, gave $200 or less).  $412,631 came in from Nov. 28 to Dec. 31 for a total of $3,685,287.

1. In contrast to the Gore camp, which formally established a committee and filed periodic disclosure reports with the IRS, the Bush camp did not set up a separate entity to fund its recount effort.  On April 23, 2001, DNC chair Terry McAuliffe wrote IRS Commissioner Charles Rossotti seeking an investigation of what he termed "the biggest 'stealth PAC' ever created." Bush-Cheney counsel Ben Ginsberg stated the recount fund was "an arm of the Bush-Cheney campaign."  On April 26, the DNC filed a complaint with the FEC, noting that since "Bush-Cheney has been using its principle campaign committee to fund its recount effort...Bush-Cheney was therefore clearly required to disclose all receipts and disbursements of its recount fund in its FEC reports."

Copyright 2000, 2001 Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action

een using its principle campaign committee to fund its recount effort...Bush-Cheney was therefore clearly required to disclose all receipts and disbursements of its recount fund in its FEC reports."

Copyright 2000, 2001 Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action