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Election 2000

Timeline of Florida Recount, Florida litigation, and Bush v. Gore

Election 2000 Legal Dispute Timeline

November 9
-Gore’s team requests a hand count of presidential ballots in Volusia, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties.

November 11
-Bush’s legal team sues in federal court to stop manual recounts in the state. (Siegel v. LePore)

November 13
-Volusia County files suit in Leon County Circuit Court seeking to extend Tuesday deadline for final vote count. (Volusia Cty Canv. Bd v. Harris)

-Florida’s Secretary of State, Katherine Harris, says she will not extend the 5 p.m. EST November 14 deadline for certifying election results.

-U.S. District Judge Middlebrooks refuses to stop manual recounts in Florida.

“The Federal Court has a very limited role and should not intervene unless there are clearly shown constitutional violations.” (Siegel v. LePore)

November 14
-Bush’s legal team appeals Judge Middlebrooks’ ruling to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. (Siegel v. LePore)

-Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris sets a deadline for November 15th at 2p.m. for counties seeking a manual recount to submit a written justification.

-Leon County Judge Terry Lewis denies the request for an injunction and upholds the Florida deadline to submit election results by 5 p.m. However, counties may notify the Secretary of State that recounts are pending, and they are allowed to continue recounting and to file updated or corrected returns.

“The secretary of state may ignore such late-filed returns but may not so do arbitrarily, rather only by the proper exercise of discretion after consideration of all appropriate facts and circumstances.” (Volusia Cty Canv. Bd v. Harris).

November 15
-11th Circuit agrees to hear Bush’s appeal. Written arguments must be filed by November 17th. (Siegel v. LePore)

-Secretary of State Harris seeks to halt manual counting of ballots. The Florida Supreme Court denies the motion. (Harris v. Circuit Judges, et al.)

-Palm Beach County seeks an advisory opinion to determine the if they should proceed with the hand count. (Palm Beach Cty Canv. Bd v. Harris)

-Secretary of State Harris says she will not accept results of any hand recounts when it is time to certify the Florida vote on November 18th.
“The reasons given in the requests are insufficient to warrant waiver of the unambiguous filing deadline imposed by the Florida Legislature.”

November 16
-Gore’s legal team files an emergency motion in state court to prevent Secretary of State Harris from certifying the results until the manual recounts have been completed. (Volusia Cty Canv. Bd. v. Harris)

-The Florida Supreme Court issues an interim order that Palm Beach County can proceed with a manual recount of ballots and this is binding law for the time being. (Palm Beach Cty Canv. Bd. v. Harris)

November 17
-11th Circuit Court of Appeals denies Bush’s request to stop manual recounts on constitutional grounds. (Siegel v. LePore; Touchston v. McDermott)

-Leon County Judge Lewis rules that Secretary of State Harris’ decision to exclude hand-recounted votes was not an abuse of discretion and allows the decision to stand.

“Florida law grants to the Secretary, as the Chief Elections Office, broad discretionary authority to accept or reject late filed returns. The purpose and intent of my [earlier] order was to insure that she in fact properly exercised her discretion, rather than automatically reject returns that came in after the statutory deadline. On the limited evidence presented, it appears that the Secretary has exercised her reasoned judgment to determine what relevant factors and criteria should be considered, applied them to the facts and circumstances pertinent to the individual counties involved, and made her decision. My Order requires nothing more.”(Volusia Cty Canv. Bd. v. Harris)

-The Florida Supreme Court enjoins Secretary of State Harris from certifying the Florida vote until it can rule on the whether hand recounts will be added to the final tally.
“In order to maintain the status quo, the Court, on its own motion, enjoins the Respondent, Secretary of State and Respondent, the Elections Canvassing Commission, from certifying the results of the November 7, 2000 presidential election, until further notice of this Court. It is NOT the intent of this Order to stop the counting and conveying to the Secretary of State the results of absentee ballots or any other ballots.” (Palm Beach Cty Canv. Bd v. Harris)

November 20
-The Florida Supreme Court holds oral arguments on whether Secretary of State Harris should consider hand recounted ballots before she certifies results of the presidential election.

November 21
-The Florida Supreme Court unanimously rules that the state election officials must include the results of manual recounts in Florida’s final presidential tally.

“Ignoring the county’s returns is a drastic measure and is appropriate only if the returns are submitted to the Department so late that their inclusion will compromise the integrity of the electoral process in either of two ways: (1) by precluding a candidate, elector, or taxpayer from contesting the certification of an election pursuant to section 102.168; or (2) by precluding Florida voters from participating fully in the federal election process” (Palm Beach Cty Canv Bd v. Harris)

November 22
-Palm Beach County Judge LaBarga rules that election officials must consider dimpled chad ballots. (Florida Democratic Party v. Palm Beach Cty. Canv. Bd.)

-Miami-Dade County Canvassing Board stops the recount of ballots.

-Bush files a certiorari petition with the U.S. Supreme Court, asking the Court to block the Florida Supreme Court decision allowing hand counts. (Bush v. Palm Beach Cty. Canv. Bd.)

November 23
-Florida Supreme Court will not order Miami-Dade County to resume recounting ballots. (Gore v. Miami-Dade Cty. Canv. Bd.)

November 24
-The U.S. Supreme Court agrees to hear Bush’s appeal of the November 21st decision of the Florida Supreme Court . (Bush v. Palm Beach Cty. Canv. Bd.). The U.S. Supreme Court does not grant certiorari before judgment in Bush’s appeal of the refusal to grant a TRO and injunction to stop manual recounts in four Florida counties. (Siegel v. LePore)

November 26
-Katherine Harris, Florida Secretary of State, announces the new certified vote totals with a 537 vote lead for Bush.

November 27
-Gore files a complaint in Leon County Court to contest the election. (Gore v. Harris)

-The Palm Beach County butterfly ballot case is certified to the Florida Supreme Court. (Fladell v. Palm Beach County)

November 29
-Gore’s legal team asks for the immediate recount of 14,000 disputed ballots. Leon County Judge, N. Saunders Sauls, orders the ballots, booths and voting machines to be brought to his courtroom. (Gore v. Harris)

November 30
-A committee of the Florida Legislature voted to recommend a special session that could select its own slate of presidential electors.

-Democrats ask the Florida Supreme Court to order an immediate hand recount of the disputed ballots. (Gore v. Harris)

-In the U.S. Supreme Court, Democrats challenge the right of Florida’s Legislature to select their own presidential electors. (Bush v. Palm Beach Cty. Canv. Bd.)

December 1
-Oral argument in the U.S. Supreme Court. (Bush v. Palm Beach Cty. Canv. Bd.)

-The Florida Supreme Court rejects the request of Democrats to order a hand recount of disputed ballots in Miami-Dade and Palm Beach. (Gore v. Harris)

-The Florida Supreme Court also affirms the decision of the Palm Beach circuit court that the butterfly ballot design did not disenfranchise voters. (Fladell v. Palm Beach Cty. Canv. Bd.)

-A district court in Texas holds that Dick Cheney is an inhabitant of Wyoming and rejects the voters’ challenge that Texas electors can not vote for both Bush and Cheney because both are allegedly residents of Texas. (Jones v. Bush)

December 4
-The U.S. Supreme Court, in a Per Curiam opinion, vacates the decision of the Florida Supreme Court and remand for clarification. (Bush v. Palm Beach Cty. Canv. Bd.)

-Leon County Judge, N. Sanders Sauls, rules that the vote tally for Nassau County should remain unchanged and that hand recounts of disputed ballots are not needed in Palm Beach and Miami-Dade County. (Gore v. Harris)

December 6
-The 11th Circuit denies Bush’s request for an injunction to stop manual recounts in four Florida counties. (Siegel v. LePore)

December 8
-The Florida Supreme Court overturns the lower court decision to reject Gore’s request for a recount of the undervote in a few Florida counties. The Florida Supreme Court orders the recount to begin immediately. (Gore v. Harris)

December 9
-The U.S. Supreme Court stays the Florida recount.

Justice Scalia, in a concurring opinion, writes that “the counting of votes that are of questionable legality does in my view threaten irreparable harm to petitioner, and to the country, by casting a cloud upon what he claims to be the legitimacy of his election. Count first, and rule upon legality afterwards, is not a recipe for producing election results that have the public acceptance democratic stability requires.” (Bush v. Gore)

December 12
-The Florida Supreme Court rejects the two lawsuits that sought to disqualify thousands of absentee ballots in Seminole and Martin Counties. (Jacobs v. Seminole Cty. Canv. Bd.; Taylor v. Martin Cty. Canv. Bd.)

-The U.S. Supreme Court reverses the ruling of the Florida Supreme Court in Gore v. Harris. The recounts are over.

Justice Stevens in his dissent wrote: “Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year’s presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the Nation’s confidence in the judges as an impartial guardian of the rule of law.” (Bush v. Gore)

December 22
-The Florida Supreme Court issues an opinion on remand from the U.S. Supreme Court.
“Accordingly, pursuant to the direction of the United States Supreme Court, we hold appellants can be afforded no relief.” (Gore v. Harris)