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For those who believe the United States is a representative democracy with a government elected by the people, the events of late 2000must have been more than a little disconcerting. In the election for our most important public office – our only truly national office – the candidate who received the most popular votes was declared the loser while his second place opponent, who had received some 540,000 fewer votes, was the winner. This result turned on the outcome in Florida, where approximately 150,000 ballots cast were found not to contain valid votes. Further, due to flaws in ballot design, thousands of other Florida ballots almost certainly failed to reflect the intentions of the voters who cast them. The number of uncounted ballots and votes arguably misrepresented by the butterfly ballot was far greater than the difference in votes between the first-place and second-place presidential candidates in the state. Studies later found that between four and six million votes were lost nationwide in the 2000 election, with 1.5 to 2 million votes lost due to faulty voting equipment and confusing ballots. Several states had higher rates of spoiled presidential ballots than Florida.


Election Law | Law | Law and Politics | Legal History


The Right to Vote: The Contested History of Democracy in the United States by Alexander Keyssar, New York: Basic Books, 2000, pp. xxiv, 467, $30.00.