November 10, 2000 – Election 2000 – not that long ago that people have forgotten, but long enough ago to serve as a reminder that our electoral system has been prone to endless shenanigans.
At the time, Election 2000 was unprecedented – an election too close to call. Allegations of voter irregularities, ballot box tampering, uncounted votes. The list was endless, and the protests were slowly spiraling out of control.
On this day, three days after votes were initially cast, the controversies and the charges were going into high gear. Vote tallies were disputed – some saying the difference was as much as 1500 in favor of Bush to only 300 in favor of Bush – and that thousands of votes, including absentee ballots hadn’t yet been counted. There were calls for recounts – observers were saying it was, in all likelihood, heading to the Supreme court. Demonstrations sprang up all over the country. Florida had become Ground Zero for what was to become the beginnings of a deeply divided nation.
There was other news going on this day – but, if you were like most Americans, you were glued to the radio and the TV – hanging on every update, every bulletin, every press conference – waiting for Election 2000 to finally be over – and once it was over, would the doubts ever go away?
And jump ahead, sixteen years later, when election 2016 produced a variation on a theme of election 2000. With allegations and uncovering instances of meddling – how, even a year later, in 2017 those questions and the divisions remain – the divisions now worse and much deeper. How, perhaps the lessons of 2000 fell on deaf ears – but that the questions over the legitimacy of our electoral system have once again been raised – and how, like gun violence, nothing really happens to change it.
And will there be a next time?