On this day in history, Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Al Gore conceded the 2000 presidential election to George W. Bush. This ended a five-week debate over inconclusive voting results, giving Florida’s 25 electoral votes to Bush. Election results hinged on Florida, but the small margin of victory had triggered a mandatory recount.
Part of the difficulty stemmed from the use of the “butterfly ballot” in Florida, which required voters to punch holes by their preferred candidate. In Florida districts using “Votomatic” ballots, incompletely-punched holes resulted in partially punched chads: either a “hanging chad,” in which one or more corners were still attached, or a “dimpled chad” or “pregnant chad,” in which all corners were still attached, but an indentation appeared to have been made. [A “chad” is the fragment created when holes are punched in paper or cards to indicate a selection whether by hand or by computer.] These votes were not counted by the tabulating machines.
Litigation in select counties started additional recounts, and this litigation ultimately reached the United States Supreme Court. The Court’s contentious decision in Bush v. Gore, announced on December 12, 2000, ended the recounts, effectively awarding Florida’s votes to Bush and granting him the victory. Gore, bowing to the inevitable, made his concession speech the next day.