Bush v. Gore

United States Supreme Court531 U.S. 98 (2000)

Facts

The United States presidential election of 2000 between George W. Bush (Petitioner) and Albert Gore (Respondent) was one of the closest in American history. After it was clear that Gore won the popular vote, the outcome turned on the State of Florida and its twenty-five electoral votes to determine the outcome of the electoral vote. After the national deadline for counting votes passed with no clear winner of the Florida electoral vote announced, Gore relied on a Florida statute and requested a manual recount of the votes from a Florida state trial court. The statute provided for “contest” of election results when there was “receipt of a number of illegal votes or rejection of a number of legal votes sufficient to change or place in doubt the result of the election.” The trial court held that Gore failed to prove a “reasonable probability” that the election would have turned out differently if not for problems counting ballots. The Supreme Court of Florida reversed, however, noting that the trial court used the wrong standard in requiring Gore to demonstrate a “reasonable probability” that the election would have been decided differently. Instead, the Florida Supreme Court said that the statute required only a showing of “receipt of a number of illegal votes or rejection of a number of legal votes sufficient to change or place in doubt the result of the election.” The court held that Gore met this standard and ordered a manual recount of votes which included a net gain of legal votes for Gore identified by Palm Beach County and Miami-Dade County in earlier manual recounts following the election. Shortly after the recount began, Bush requested that the United States Supreme Court grant a stay of the recount and grant certiorari to consider the case. The Supreme Court granted a stay and certiorari.

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