Has Virginia ever had a governor

The winner of the election in the USA is not always certain the next morning. But never has the dispute over it been so epic as with George W. Bush against Al Gore

In the presidential election in 2000, it took five weeks to determine who won - the decision was not made by the voters, but by a court after numerous volts.

A new president was elected in the United States on November 8, 2000, the 43rd in United States history. In the end, however, the decision as to who the new president is was not made by the voters, but by a court after weeks of arguments and back and forth. The presidential election between Democrat Al Gore and Republican George W. Bush turned out to be one of the most bizarre elections that have ever taken place - but who knows if Donald Trump's against Joe Biden twenty years later will overtake it.

A close race between Bush and Gore was expected. But what happened next no one had seen coming.

Traditionally, the election began one minute past midnight local time in the small village of Dixville Notch in the state of New Hampshire on the east coast. It didn't take long to count the votes: 21 for George W. Bush, 5 for Al Gore and 1 for the Green candidate, Ralph Nader.

In the course of the day, however, there were already problems in several states: In some cases, the turnout was unexpectedly high, more election workers had to be found or, given the long queues in front of the bars, their opening times had to be extended. Nonetheless, the first results gradually came in: Indiana, Kentucky, South Carolina, Georgia, and Virginia all voted for Bush, as expected. Al Gore won in Vermont, Michigan, Illinois, and West Virginia. After all, Gore already had 250, Bush 246 so-called electors behind him. The electors, the electors sent by the member states, elect the president as a body. Even if they are not bound by the vote cast by the citizens of their states, it is expected that they will vote in accordance with it; only in very rare cases have individuals deviated in the more than 200 years since the first presidential election. The number of electors is different for each state - so the result may be more important in some states than in others. It takes 270 electors to win.

It soon becomes clear: the choice will be made in Florida

Finally, on November 8th, only a few results were missing, including Florida, which is particularly important with 25 electors. All major TV stations reported, with reference to projections, that Al Gore had won in Florida. But Governor Jeb Bush, the candidate's brother, found that the numbers from the projections and the votes counted did not match. On television it was said again that Florida had not yet been decided.

Meanwhile, the count continued in the other states. Gore surprisingly lost 22 electors' votes to West Virginia, Tennessee and Arkansas. But it was already clear: the choice will be made in Florida. At some point, several television stations announced that Bush had won in Florida. Al Gore picked up the phone and congratulated Bush on the victory - but publicly he held back for the time being, because a clear result from Florida was still missing. When the two candidates were only about 1,800 votes apart, Gore called Bush again: He was withdrawing recognition of the victory because circumstances had changed. It must be counted again. In fact, in the event of a very narrow election result, a law required re-counting by machine, which the Florida Attorney General finally ordered. In the NZZ, the correspondent reported hopefully that the result of the new count, and thus the decision, should be available the next morning. He should be wrong.

It has to be counted by hand

Because the recount was completed the next day, but there was still no decision: Now the difference between the two candidates was only 900 votes. The whole state was then counted again by machine: Bush now only got a little over 300 more votes than Gore. Gore asked to count again - this time by hand. Bush and his team tried, among other things, in court to prevent this, but could not prevail. There was also controversy over unrecounted votes from military personnel and the design of ballot papers, which had confused some voters. Corrections were also made in other states: In New Mexico, 500 lost votes appeared, in New Hampshire they were recounted, in several other states the results were only marginally apart, and at least a recount was in the room.

Florida Home Secretary Katherine Harris knew she would eventually have to announce a certified result and set a November 14 deadline for constituencies: they should submit the hand count results by the next day. The supreme court of the state disagreed. He allowed constituencies to keep counting, but left it up to Harris to consider the results that had not yet been submitted. Republican Harris declared Bush the winner on November 18, with a 930 vote lead. But just one day later, the Florida Supreme Court annulled the decision and extended the deadline by a week. Counting was still going on in the controversial constituencies.

Victory for Bush - but the dispute continues

On November 26th the official final result was finally announced - although some constituencies were still not finished with the hand count and instead the result of the machine count was evaluated: Bush was declared the winner in Florida with a lead of 537 votes. So he could count on 271 electors, Gore only on 267. They were to elect the president on December 18, their votes would be counted in January, and on January 20, this date was immovable, the new president would be sworn in. But the choice was still not decided. Because Democrats and citizens challenged the result in courts in Florida.

And: Shortly before the results were announced, the Republicans called the Supreme Court to prevent the results of the manual recounts in Florida from being included in the election results. And so, on December 1, the nine members of the US Supreme Court came together to speak for the first time in more than 200 years of history in a dispute over a presidential election. In the case of "Bush vs. Palm Beach Electoral Authority" they would not decide on the election result, only on the question of whether the extension of the deadline for submitting election results and thus the hand counts were legitimate.

The Supreme Court decides the choice

On December 8th, the Florida court made a decision: It had to be counted again. And: The votes from the recounts that have not been taken into account so far would have to be counted as votes for Gore. This meant that Bush was only ahead with 150 votes in Florida.

Two days later, the Supreme Court stopped the count. A month after the election it was still not clear who had won it.

The final decision in the Bush vs. Gore case was finally made by the Supreme Court on December 12th, with seven to nine votes: the manual recount was against the constitution. Al Gore, who got half a million more votes but still had fewer electors behind him than Bush, admitted defeat on television. The 43rd President of the United States was called George W. Bush.