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US elections 2020: how many votes decided the 2000 presidential election?

The 2000 United States elections was the 54th quadrennial presidential election, in which everything came down to the wire between George Bush and Al Gore.

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US elections 2020: how many votes decided the 2000 presidential election?
Jason ReedReuters

The 2000 US Presidential elections between George W. Bush and Al Gore were decided by the Supreme Court when there was a recount of votes in the state of Florida. That year Election Day was held on 7 November, with Republican candidate, George W. Bush, eventually named the winner. 

Related news: US Elections 2020: when does early voting start in each state?

How it all happened

During the 2000 elections, Bush lost the popular vote by a small margin to Gore, but since the electoral college had the final say, Bush proved victorious. 

On election night there was no clear winner and the media were contradicting each other regarding the winner of the presidency. It started with Oregon and New Mexico because it was too close to call a winner in those states and after several days all eyes were on Florida.

Many media networks were saying that Democratic nominee Al Gore was the clear winner in Florida but then other networks were saying that it was clear that Bush had won. There were fewer than 600 votes that separated each candidate. This caused Florida state law to do a mandatory recount of the votes and by 10 November the recount was complete.

Bush was the new winner

Three days after election day and after the recount of votes was done in Florida, it showed that Bush was leading by 327 votes out of six million casted. People were not happy with this recount and suspected something was not right after it gave the Republican contender the win.

The butterfly ballot confusion

During the recount in Florida the news broke about a “butterfly ballot design” that was used in Palm Beach country. This ballot meant that some Gore supporters were confused when they were casting their vote and it prompted them to vote for third-party candidate Pat Buchanan, who ended up receiving a total of 3,400 votes.

Towards the end of November officials in Florida certified that George W. Bush was the winner with a total of 527 votes, but he could not be appointed as president of the U.S. because there were ongoing demands from Democratic candidate Gore regarding the recount of votes.

Due to the legal battles, the Supreme Court had to step in and eventually decided to do a manual recount in the state of Florida (roughly 45,000 undervotes). These undervotes are ballots that machines didn’t record clearly about the presidential vote. After this manual recount it reduced Bush’s lead to 152 votes.

As the second recount was going on the Bush campaign filed an appeal with the Supreme Court so they could delay the process. It was not until 12 December that the court stated that it would be impossible to do a statewide recount before the 18 December deadline for certifying the state’s electors.

So after a 5-4 decision the Supreme Court ordered to reverse the recount order. This decision made George W. Bush the winner of the 2000 United States presidential elections with a narrow win of 271 to 266 over Al Gore.