The Unfinished Election of 2000

By Jack N. Rakove | Go to book overview

3
THE RIGHT TO VOTE
AND ELECTION 2000

ALEXANDER KEYSSAR

THE ELECTION OF NOVEMBER 2000 LAUNCHED AN unprecedented rhetorical celebration of the right to vote. President Clinton got in on the act characteristically early, declaring on November 8 that voting was "our most fundamental right." The razor-thin margin of the election meant to the president that "No American will ever be able to seriously say again, 'My vote doesn't count'." As the legal and political battle over the Florida recount escalated, both the Bush and the Gore camps piously invoked the "sacred" right to vote (and in Gore's case, the right to have one's vote counted); their lawyers did likewise in briefs filed in numerous courts. The celebration was bipartisan and echoed everywhere by the pundits, who were everywhere. Not since the passage of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965 had the phrase "the right to vote" passed the lips of so many people in so short a time. 1

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