TWO
Elections by Judicial Fiat:
The Courts Decide

William Crotty


THE LONG COUNT

There were two related but distinct aspects to the 2000 election. One, of course, was the lengthy campaign and the choice to be made between competing candidates, political parties, and policy agendas. Clearly, this is of enormous importance to the country in deciding its future direction, whose concerns are best addressed by the White House and the Congress, who is to wield a power that touches all of us, and the conditions under which we live and work. Normally, and in the United States with only very few exceptions, this decision is made on Election Day.

Such was not the case in 2000 and, in fact, the aftermath of the election is what gives it a distinction and, beyond others, a historic place in American politics. The decisions made, the court cases argued, and the problems raised directed national attention like no other election in living memory to the way in which we elect presidents; the determining influences of a basically archaic and poorly understood institution, the Electoral College; and the problems and different approaches to counting and recounting votes that goes to the very heart of the operations of American democracy.

This chapter attempts to sift through the conflicting claims and the welter of events that marked the post-election effort to declare a winner and, at the same time, do so in a manner that fairly reflected the electorate's wishes and provided the incoming administration the

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