Bush v. Gore: A critical Juncture for early voting?

Working Paper No.: 
15
Date Published: 
04/16/2011
Author(s): 
Paul Gronke
Reed College and Early Voting Information Center
James Hicks

The title of this conference, "10 Years after Bush v. Gore," implies that the papers and discussions will focus on the impact of the 2000 election, the Court decision, and subsequent controversy on elections, election law, and election administration. But this call raised for us a basic question: what precisely is BvG? At the simplest level, BvG means George W. Bush, et al. v. Albert Gore, Jr., et al. (531 U.S. 98, 121 S. Ct. 525), a United States Supreme Court decision issued on December 8, 2000. The Court ruled 7-2 that the recounting of votes occuring in certain counties in Florida be stopped due to an inconsistent standard, and 5-4 that no constitutionally-valid scheme could be devised that would meetin Florida's statutory deadline for results certification. The decision, in essence, awarded the election to George W. Bush. But beyond this decision - explicitly limited in its judical sclpe - the "case and controversy from which it arose gave rise to a new wave of legislative and judicial attention to the mechanics of elections. A sea change in media coverage and extensive legal commentary has followed. It is hard to deny that BvG was a monumentally important moment for election administration in the United States, and one that prompted enormous change in the way that elections are administered, conducted, and scrutinized.