Why Al Gore Lost the 2000 Election

The 2000 presidential election is an itch that liberals just can’t stop scratching. It has entered their collective consciousness as the year George W. Bush was “selected, not elected” by the Supreme Court. They just can’t let it go.

Historical facts matter, however, even if only to maintain public confidence in the integrity of our elections. A generation of soon-to-be young voters who were toddlers in 2000 and who have been exposed to this hoary liberal shibboleth all of their lives deserve to know the truth.

The first election-night count awarded Florida to George W. Bush by a margin of 1,784 votes. There was an automatic recount because of the narrow margin, as required by state law. George Bush won the final recount by 537 votes. On November 26th, Florida’s election authority certified that Bush had won the state. Florida law unambiguously set the date by which recounts must be completed.

Without Florida’s 25 electoral votes, neither Bush nor Gore could have claimed the presidency. The official results that the state certified were: Bush 2,912,790; Gore 2,912,253. The difference of 537 was less than 0.01 percent of the votes cast, which triggered calls for another recount. For 36 days politicians and lawyers argued about how or whether to recount the votes. The Florida Supreme Court ordered a recount, but the United States Supreme Court ordered the recount to cease. Al Gore conceded on December 13th; George Bush took office on January 20th. Ever since, liberals have clung to the belief that it was Al Gore who “really” won this close election.

In a written statement, Al Gore said: “We are a nation of laws and the presidential election of 2000 is over. And, of course, our country faces a great challenge as we seek to successfully combat terrorism. I fully support President Bush’s efforts to achieve that goal.”

Democrats have long contended that a plurality of Florida voters intended to vote for Gore, but cast thousands of spoiled ballots because of poor ballot design or confusing instructions. So, what? All voters, Democrats and Republicans alike, faced the same challenges. The Democrat Party doesn’t deserve special consideration because its voters, in the aggregate, are more illiterate or inept.

All the Votes were Counted

Because the court-ordered end of the final recount in January had left 175,010 votes uncounted, a consortium of news organizations commissioned the National Opinion Research Center (NORC), a nonpartisan research organization affiliated with the University of Chicago, to inspect these uncounted ballots and tally the results. The consortium included Tribune Co., owner of the Los Angeles Times; Associated Press; Cable News Network; The New York Times; The Palm Beach Post; The St. Petersburg Times; The Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post.

Each of these media organizations also independently analyzed the data collected by NORC. The full NORC database was released to the public. The researchers agreed more than 97% of the time when inspecting ballots, “a high degree of accuracy,” declared Kirk Wolter, Senior VP of NORC.

This study revealed that precincts with large numbers of black and young voters produced measurably more spoiled ballots, which debunked the prediction that it would be precincts with the most elderly voters that produced the highest error rates. Some ballot formats were confusing. Much attention was focused on the paper “butterfly ballots” used in Palm Beach County, but error rates were higher in some counties using state-of-the-art optical scanning systems. Most errors occurred in 18 counties where ballots spread across two pages or two columns. Some counties were so careless in handling their ballots that some county officials could not say with certainty which ballots had been counted and which had not.

Most telling of all, George Bush would most likely have won any recount of “under votes” – ballots that were rejected because they bore no clear vote for any presidential candidate. Al Gore, by contrast, would most likely have won a recount that included “over votes” – ballots that were marked for more than one candidate, but Al Gore’s lawyers never requested a recount of the over vote ballots. The Gore campaign had loudly protested that thousands of under vote ballots had been rejected by the vote counting machines; it was these under votes that Gore wanted counted by hand.

The Gore campaign sued for a recount and the Florida Supreme Court, by a vote of 4 to 3, ordered a manual recount of all under votes statewide. The Bush campaign then appealed to the United States Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments on December 11th. The following day the Court ordered the recount to cease on “equal protection” grounds: the State of Florida simply had no unambiguous standard for determining voter intent when tabulating the under vote ballots. For the state of Florida to be choosing a candidate for voters who chose to not choose a presidential candidate on their cast ballots was the stuff of witchcraft. The Court put a stop to all such divination. The Supreme Court wisely decided to let the standard for what was or was not a spoiled ballot be what the instructions posted in polling places said it was. In any election there are spoiled ballots; the usual number is about 4%.

The yearning for recounts quickly devolved into magical thinking. Once recounting began, there was no obvious stopping point. In the 2000 Florida election, the first two counts favored candidate Bush. If a third count favored Gore, would he be the winner? Why not a fourth count or a 25th? There is no best number when we can all agree that justice has been done.

Another tabulation of the Florida votes was conducted by the accounting firm of BDO Seidman (now BDO USA) at the behest of several news organizations. The conclusion of BDO was that under most of the methods used to count disputed ballots, George Bush would have prevailed by several hundred votes. Under only one unlikely methodology would Gore win, and then only by three votes! George Bush’s 537 vote advantage on the first recount may have been small, but it was 179 times bigger than three votes.

Al Gore repeatedly misstated Florida law when he said that his goal was to make sure all votes were counted. Under Florida law all votes had been counted. As Florida Secretary of State Jim Smith explained, the 19,120 presidential ballots at issue in Palm Beach County were “destroyed by deliberate double punching . . . with a second punch for Al Gore or Pat Buchanan.” These were the “over votes” that Al Gore wanted all to himself. These ballots strongly suggest that voters who voted for Bush or for a candidate other than Al Gore had their ballots tampered with in order to give an illegal advantage to Al Gore. The error rate in Palm Beach County was ten times greater than was reported in any other county in America that used paper punch ballots. Only in Palm Beach County were 15,000 ballots “invalidated” because of double-punched ballots in the 1996 presidential election. Only in Palm Beach County, and only in the most heavily Democrat precincts, were 19,120 ballots invalidated in 2000 for double punching. The error rate in the rest of Florida was less than one half of one percent. It was nine times that in Palm Beach County.

Especially striking is the fact that in every Palm Beach County precinct where Al Gore got more votes than there were registered Democrats, Bush received less than 60% of the registered Republican votes. In not even one Palm Brach precinct did Bush receive more than 80% of the number of registered Republicans. It was only in Palm Beach County where 20% of Republicans “forgot” to vote for their party’s candidate, while in every other Florida county Bush received more votes than there were registered Republicans. Nationwide more than 90% of registered Republicans had voted for Bush. Therefore, Palm Beach County reeked of Democrat Party election fraud.

Echoes of 1960

But for the Chicago vote of 1960, Richard Nixon would have won Illinois and the presidency, but by the early morning hours after the polls closed Nixon knew that he had lost the race. The big difference between the elections of 1960 and 2000 is that Nixon, unlike Gore, had ample reason to believe that the Chicago vote had been rigged against him. To quote Mike Royko, a longtime admirer of Chicago’s Mayor Richard Daley: “The Daley Machine found ways to make the vote totals sit up and smile. Instead of violence, it used sleight of hand, making one vote turn into ten; miracles, causing the dead to rise and cast a straight ticket; and kindness, offering a bottle of muscatel for a trembly vote or two.” John Kennedy’s daddy Joe had only to ask and Mayor Daley would work his magic. Kennedy won the popular vote in the 1960 election by a margin of one-tenth of one percent.

And how did Nixon respond? He acted like a mature man and a patriot. Nixon understood that if he challenged the Chicago vote America might be plunged into a constitutional crisis. He accepted the crooked vote count in order to prevent a historic disruption of our civil society.

Al Gore showed no such restraint and he wasn’t even alleging election fraud; he was bitching about the confusing design of the paper ballots in Palm Beach County! To make matters worse, Gore dispatched Jesse Jackson to Florida to stir up street demonstrations, which is a Democrat thing. Republicans aren’t big on street demonstrations because they are grownups who don’t want to live in a banana republic. The question of whether Gore or Nixon was the better man was decided the instant that Jackson’s street agitation erupted.

Al Gore was ensnared in a desperate search for some way to get a court to make him President of the United States. The essential wrongness of this search shone brightly when Justice Anthony Kennedy posed this hypothetical question to Al Gore’s lawyer, David Boies: What if, after the November 7th election, the Florida Legislature had written into law all of the newly-invented deadlines for recounting votes and selective recounts, and so on, that Florida’s Supreme Court invented by fiat. Would that late-blooming burst of law making have violated the federal law that requires presidential elections to be conducted according to the rules in place prior to Election Day?

To which the clearly flummoxed Mr. Boies answered, “I think that it would be unusual. I haven’t really thought about that question.” Of course he hadn’t. Finally Mr. Boies conceded that, yes, it would be contrary to federal law for Florida’s legislature to do what Florida’s Supreme Court actually did. Mr. Boies conceded that Florida’s courts had created exactly the same set of post-election facts that would have been illegal if created by that other co-equal branch of government, the legislature. Mr. Boies was in thrall to a vision of America governed by jurists behaving like philosopher kings. The core question in Bush v. Gore was this: What is the principal source of the people’s government – the judiciary or the political branch, which is the closest expression of the people’s will? For liberals like Mr. Boies, the word “legislature,” as written in our Constitution, meant “the legislature as its statutes are filtered through creative state courtrooms.”

When David Boies remarked that the U.S. Supreme Court had generally shown “deference to state supreme court decisions,” Justice Sandra Day O’Connor cited Article II of the Constitution which grants the states sweeping powers to appoint its own presidential electors “in such manner as the legislature thereof may direct.” She asked Gore’s lawyer: Must not a state court, in interpreting a legislative act, “give special deference to the legislature’s choices insofar as a presidential election is concerned? “ Mr. Boies answered lamely that he thought that the Florida Supreme Court’s contravention of federal law was “within the normal ambit of judicial interpretation.”

To which Justice O’Connor responded:

“I’m sorry. You are responding as though there were no special burden (for state courts) to show some deference to legislative choices in this one context. Not when courts review laws generally, for general elections, but in the context of selection of presidential electors, isn’t there a big red flag up there, ‘Watch out’?” But Al Gore’s lawyer couldn’t see the light. He was an enthusiast of liberalism by judicial fiat.

Reality on the Ground

The Electoral College System was not a surprise imposition on the 2000 presidential campaign. Both candidates knew what the electoral terrain was and both campaigns behaved accordingly. The American system is the most stable and successful system of government because it rejected simple majority rule. In the U.S. Senate, for example, Delaware speaks as loudly as California and truly important endeavors require super-majorities.

The founders chose democracy because historical experience had demonstrated that it was the political system most likely to produce stability and peace. The populace is most generally satisfied when majorities have their way; our system of democracy is modified by an Electoral College system that prevents regional majorities from running roughshod over less populous regions of the country with different cultural and economic interests. That said, popular majorities almost always have their way. The 2000 presidential election was a squeaker. We can take some consolation in the fact that both Gore and Bush received far more popular votes than did Bill Clinton in 1992, when the majority of Americans voted for conservative governance but split their vote between two conservative candidates, George Herbert Walker Bush and Ross Perot, only to have Bill Clinton take the presidency with a plurality of only 43 percent of American voters.

The night before Election Day of 2000, Democrat Representative William Clay of Missouri assured a Gore-Lieberman rally in St. Louis that a lawsuit would be filed to keep the polls open longer than Missouri law allowed. Such a suit was filed the next day in the name of Robert D. Odom, a man who had died the previous year and, therefore, had no legal standing. Mr. Clay responded that the plaintiff should have been Robert M. Odom, whose complaint was that he was being denied the right to vote, even though this Mr. Odom had, in fact, voted that afternoon. By the time a compliant Democrat-friendly judge ordered the polls to remain open, Democrat voters had already been receiving prerecorded telephone messages from Jesse Jackson assuring them that they could vote late into the night.

Missouri Secretary of State Matt Blunt recalled that among the 1,384 illegally cast ballots were at least 62 cast by convicted felons, 79 by people whose registered addresses were vacant lots, 68 by people who voted more than one time and 14 cast in the name of a dead person.

Missouri law clearly states that court orders can be issued only for the purpose of securing the votes of registered voters who were removed from voting rolls by mistake. Therefore, of the 1,268 applications for court orders, a whopping 1,233 were issued in violation of Missouri law and frequently for people who had never registered to vote. Their written requests for court orders from the compliant liberal judge included such reasons as, “I was late registering due to me were going through a mental disorder,” “I’m a busy lady w/7 children,” “Found out about Gore from my mother,” and “I want a Dem. president.” One applicant simply wrote “forgot to” (register to vote). None of which could be redressed by any court . . . legally.

At the time, Missouri Senator Kit Bond remarked that of St. Louis’ 258,532 voting-age residents, fully 247,135 were registered to vote. That’s an astonishing 96% participation rate that would raise the eyebrows of any statistician or student of human behavior. Almost one in ten of these conscientious citizens were also registered to vote somewhere other than St. Louis. Democrats are fond of whining about “exclusion,” but none of them see any problem with excessive inclusion, which is blatant election fraud.

To suggest that American citizens have any responsibility for safeguarding their ballots makes liberals cranky. In the wake of the Palm Beach County confusion, the Florida Legislature passed a law that required the posting of a list of “voter responsibilities” in every polling place. This list included “keep his or her address current;” “Bring proper identification to the polling station;” “Know how to operate voting equipment properly;” “Ask questions when confused” and “Check his or her completed ballot for accuracy.” But even this benign effort to enlarge the franchise by minimizing spoiled ballots was roundly denounced by liberals as a Second Coming of Jim Crow. They likened the very mention of voter responsibility to the re-imposition of poll taxes and literacy tests. Without ballot confusion there would be no pretexts for employing activist judges to violate election laws to favor Democrat candidates.

Liberals Love Chaos

A full sixteen years after the muddle that was the 2000 Florida election, Florida’s secretary of state, Ken Detzner, is doing his best to scrape ineligible voters from the rolls, but he is meeting stiff resistance from the hyper-partisan Obama administration. Mr. Detzner says that Obama’s Justice Department is thwarting Florida’s efforts to remove the names of registered voters who are not American citizens. Mr. Detzner explained that it was the Department of Homeland Security that was breaking the law by blocking Florida’s access to a federal database. A Homeland Security privacy-impact statement dated August 2011 states that the database can be used for “any legal purpose such as background investigations and voter registrations.”

But when scrubbing the voter rolls of ineligible illegal aliens might threaten the Florida vote count for Hillary Clinton then, suddenly, giving Florida access to the immigration database “poses legal and technical challenges.” In light of this Obama-gang foot dragging, Mr. Detzner declared that the Obama administration could not then assert that Florida was trying to remove voters too close to the approaching 2016 presidential election. In his own words: “This hardly seems like an approach earnestly designed to protect the integrity of elections and to ensure that eligible voters have their votes counted.”

The Final Recount

Contrary to liberal mythology, the more than 175,000 disputed Florida ballots were examined by a consortium of eight news organizations. By the rules clearly posted in every polling place George W. Bush won the 2000 Florida election. Also, Bush would have maintained his advantage even if Al Gore had been successful in securing the additional partial recounts he was seeking. Those partial recounts, of all the votes cast in four predominantly Democrat counties, would have left Bush with a vote advantage of between 225 and 493 votes. Also, a statewide recount of only the under votes, which was all Al Gore was demanding, would have left George Bush the winner.

Al Gore’s Three Strikes

After all of Al Gore’s righteous bluster about his mission to expand the franchise by counting every hanging and dimpled chad on every spoiled paper ballot in Florida, his equally vigorous attempts to suppress the inclusion of late-arriving overseas ballots cast by American military personnel exposed Al Gore’s ugly hypocrisy. He used every technical argument at his disposal to void the votes of these American patriots who tend to favor conservatism. It was just another Al Gore moral blemish.

Al Gore’s vote tally was also dragged down by the presence of Green Party candidate Ralph Nader on every Florida voter’s ballot. The consensus among professors, pundits and wonks is that Nader’s presence cost Al Gore about 97,000 Florida votes.

Al Gore’s final fatal act was his abrupt flip-flop in the notorious Elian Gonzalez Affair. Elian was a six-year-old Cuban boy whose mother had drowned at sea in her heroic effort to bring her son to a free America. That was in late November of 1999. Ten other Cubans also drowned in that crossing. Elian and two others were rescued by two fishermen.

Relatives in Florida petitioned for asylum on Elian’s behalf, which was denied. On March 29th, Miami-Dade County Mayor Alex Penelas was joined by 22 other civic leaders for impassioned speeches. The mayor expressed his opposition to the boy’s deportation and made clear that his police and other assets would not assist in deporting the boy.

Attorney General Janet Reno ordered Elian’s deportation by April 13th of 2000. Protestors and police gathered around the house where Elian was sheltered with relatives. In the predawn hours of April 22nd, on Easter Eve, Reno’s orders were carried out by agents of the Border Patrol’s elite BORTAC unit.

The official BORTAC website tells us that “The Border Patrol Tactical Unit provides an immediate response capability to emergent and high-risk incidents requiring specialized skills and tactics. BORTAC has a cadre of full-time team members headquartered in El Paso, Texas and non-full-time members dispersed throughout the United States. The teams can be called upon to deploy immediately when needed.” In total, 130 INS personnel participated in the assault on the house. Janet Reno had decided that this domestic issue was deserving of an intervention by an elite team of armed paramilitary troopers. This is the same Janet Reno who ordered an unnecessary assault on a religious community in Waco, Texas that needlessly killed so many harmless women and children.

As federal agents used chemical sprays to repel protestors outside the house, an insider admitted Alan Diaz of the Associated Press to the house. Diaz had his camera ready when a federal agent burst into the room and pointed a machine gun at Elian and Donato Dalrymple, one of the fishermen who had rescued Elian from the sea. This photo won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News.


This raid and Elian’s deportation back to Cuba was widely polarizing. Bill Clinton’s White House made matters worse by broadcasting a photo of a smiling Elian back in Cuba. Cuban president Fidel Castro exploited the moment by posing with Elian. The Cuban exiles of Florida, who had fled Castro’s suffocating autocracy, were furious: Al Gore had teased these refugees by first supporting Republican legislation to give Elian and his father permanent resident status, then suddenly joined Bill Clinton in his efforts to mollify the Cuban dictator.

By best estimates, Al Gore’s spineless acquiescence to Bill Clinton’s effeminate diplomacy cost him another 40,000 Cuban-American votes in the 2000 presidential election.

Conclusion

All these years later the sore-loser liberals are still grinding their teeth and insisting that Al Gore “really” won the 2000 presidential election because Al Gore won the popular vote by 0.5 %, but lost the Electoral College vote. But consider: George W. Bush carried 30 of 50 states and 288 of the 435 congressional districts and 2,480 counties to Gore’s 674. In this deeper regard the Electoral College chose a winner based on his broader national appeal as a candidate. It was a truly national election in which each region of the country was fairly included.

Thomas Clough
Copyright 2016
September 27, 2016