The 2000 Election
The votes registered in 1996 would become the contentious center of the 2000 election. In the election, Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore received over one half million more popular votes than his Republican challenger, George W. Bush. An extremely close vote in the state of Florida called for a recount and for over one month it was unclear who the winner of the election would be. Ninety percent of all African American voters supported Gore and in the heavily contested state of Florida, 93 percent backed the Democratic candidate. In a five to four ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court declared Bush the winner of the election by only several hundred votes out of over six million in Florida. Bush was therefore awarded the presidency by an electoral vote margin of 271 to 266. About 8,000 voters, many of whom were black, were denied the right to vote, because they were erroneously listed as ex-felons, who in the state of Florida were not permitted to vote at that time. Reminiscent of the Jim Crow era, where qualified black voters were prohibited to vote by a series of voting tests, poll taxes, and most often, brute force, black voters were turned away at the polls. Some thirty- five years after the 1965 Voting Rights Act had been passed with a handshake between President Johnson and Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., black residents of Florida were once again finding themselves disenfranchised.
The U. S. Commission on Civil Rights later determined that the ballots of black Florida voters were nearly ten times more likely to be rejected from the official state-wide count due to alleged irregularities. Many African Americans therefore asserted that Bush had stolen the election. On 6 January 2001 the official count of the Electoral College votes was held in the House of Representatives. All members of the Congressional Black Caucus and several other members of the House challenged this count based on the voting irregularities that had occurred in the Florida race. The U.S. Constitution requires that at least one member of both the House and the Senate lodge an official objection in order to halt the parliamentary procedures in counting the vote, but not a single Democratic senator rose to support the Congressional Black Caucus’ position. In protest, the Caucus walked out of the House chamber, denouncing the election of George W. Bush as a miscarriage of justice.