Following Election Day in 2000, the certification of Florida’s presidential election results was hotly contested by both George W. Bush, the Republican candidate, and Al Gore, the Democratic candidate. Multiple lawsuits were filed focused on how counties counted ballots with “hanging chads,” overvotes (ballots that have multiple markings for the same office), undervotes (ballots missing a marking for certain offices) and the “butterfly ballot” design used in Palm Beach County. On Dec. 8, 2000, the Florida Supreme Court ordered manual recounts in counties that had not already retabulated “undervotes” for the presidential election. The state Supreme Court also ordered the certification of 215 votes cast in Palm Beach County and 168 votes cast in Miami-Dade County for Gore and his running mate.
Bush immediately filed an emergency application in the U.S. Supreme Court asking it to pause the state Supreme Court’s order. The U.S. Supreme Court granted his request and also agreed to review the merits of the case. After holding oral arguments on Dec. 11, 2000, the Court issued an unsigned opinion reversing the Florida Supreme Court’s order. In a 7-2 ruling, a majority of the Court held that the recount process ordered by the state Supreme Court violated the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment because counting standards were not consistent across counties.
In a narrower 5-4 ruling, a majority of the Court held that no further recount could be conducted due to time constraints. After this decision, Florida’s recounts were stopped and its electoral votes went to Bush, handing him the presidency.
Case Documents (U.s. supreme court)
Case Documents (fl supreme court)
Case Documents (leon county circuit court)