Twenty years ago, the 2000 presidential election ended without a clear winner, and history could repeat itself this year. At that time, the U.S. Supreme court voted 5-4 in favor of stopping a statewide Florida recount that handed the presidency to former President George W. Bush.
We spoke to the attorney representing the Democratic ticket Tuesday about what they are prepared to do if something similar to the 2000 election happens in 2020.
Former Vice President Al Gore had accepted defeat on election night in 2018.
“And then I received a call at about 11 o’clock from vice president saying in this exact quote, “Steve, it looks like we are going to need some lawyers in Florida,” attorney Steve Zack recalled.
It was Zack’s argument, “I don’t think legally, your honor, that that quite carries the day,” that convinced a judge to order a recount.
“Had it not been for that one judge, none of the bush versus gore would’ve actually happened,” Zack said.
The Florida Supreme Court allowed the recount to continue, only to have the U.S. Supreme Court step in. By a 5-4 vote, the federal justices ended it all.
“Bush versus Gore was decided by one vote,” Zack said.
Zack remembers the past but worries he’ll be needed again in the near future.
“Of course, the president and his remarks challenging the validity of the vote and clearly is setting a stage for that possibility,” Zack said.
If it does, he’s ready to work for Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
“I think any lawyer who wants to see the law followed would go anywhere and do anything to present their position to court,” Zack said.
That’s true of President Donald Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani. We asked him what will happen if the president loses the election and how he would handle that.
“President Trump will handle it the right way,” Giuliani said. “First of all, it better be honest because if it isn’t, he’ll fight it.”
Zack told us, because one vote from the justices decided the 200 election, the swearing-in of Justice Amy Coney Barrett could have an immediate impact if something happens on Election Day. But Zack said most election issues don’t make a difference in who wins or loses, so they never go to the Supreme Court.