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How we got here: A timeline of the Florida recount

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Al Gore's presidential concession brings an apparent end to one of the most eventful months in American electoral history -- one filled with developments in state capitals and courtrooms. Following are the major developments in Election 2000, beginning on Election Day:

November 7: Election Day. Shortly before 8 p.m. EST, all of the major television networks estimate that Gore has beaten Texas Gov. George W. Bush in the key state of Florida -- but as the night goes on and results come in from the state's Panhandle region, networks are forced to retract the estimate.

Meanwhile, the race remains extraordinarily close across the nation. Gore takes the battleground states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Illinois; Bush claims Ohio, Tennessee and Missouri; and the candidates claim other major states they were expected to win. As the night goes on, it becomes clear that the victor in Florida will win the electoral votes necessary to claim the presidency.

November 8: A series of early-morning events set the stage for a protracted presidential battle. First, by about 2:15 a.m., the major networks call Florida and the election for Bush. Gore, hearing that he probably will lose Florida by about 50,000 votes, calls the Texas governor and concedes.

But 45 minutes later, while Gore is en route to a rally in Nashville to give a concession address, aides reach him and tell him the news: Bush's lead in Florida has shrunk dramatically and the Texas governor's lead is only a few thousand votes at best.

Gore calls Bush. "Let me make sure I understand," the Texas governor said, according to a report in Time magazine. "You're calling me back to retract your concession." Bush tells Gore that Bush's brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, has assured the Texas governor that he has won Florida. "Your younger brother is not the ultimate authority on this," Gore replies.

Gore never gives the public address. Instead, he sends out his campaign chairman, former Commerce Secretary Bill Daley, to speak to the crowd. Although Gore is ready to concede if there is a clear sign he has lost Florida, "Our campaign continues," Daley said.

By 4:15 a.m., the major networks are forced to pull the estimate that Bush is the president-elect.

The nation's focus immediately turns to Florida -- even though the election is also too close to call in Wisconsin, Iowa, New Mexico and Oregon -- and within hours, questions are raised about voting in some areas. In Palm Beach County, an unexpectedly large vote for third-party candidates leads to questions about the "butterfly ballot" there, where the names of candidates are placed on the left and right columns of a page and a series of punch holes are found in a center column. Large numbers of disqualified ballots, or ballots where no vote is registered for president, are found in other counties.

Bush and Gore's campaigns respond by sending teams of lawyers to Florida. The close race triggers an automatic recount of ballots under state law.

Many Americans hear the word "chad" -- a reference to the small piece of paper punched out of punchcard ballots -- for the first time. Soon, "hanging chad," "dimpled chad" and "pregnant chad" are phrases that enter everyday conversation.

November 9: Gore's team, led by former Secretary of State Warren Christopher, requests a hand recount of ballots in four Florida counties -- Palm Beach, Dade, Broward and Volusia -- and a circuit judge orders Palm Beach County not to certify its results.

November 10: The Florida machine recount is completed. Unofficial results, gathered by the Associated Press, give Bush a lead of only 327 votes out of nearly 6 million cast.

November 12: Palm Beach County officials vote to conduct a full hand recount of presidential votes; Volusia County begins its own hand count; Bush's legal team, headed by former Secretary of State James Baker, goes to federal court seeking to block manual recounts. As the days go by, numerous lawsuits from a number of parties spring up in state and federal courts, seeking to block or allow the counts and certifications, seeking access to the ballots, or raising questions about the legal validity of absentee ballots in some counties.

November 13: Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris says she will not extend a deadline of 5 p.m. EST on November 14 for receiving all state election results except for absentee ballots coming from overseas. Gore's team promises a legal challenge. A federal judge turns down the Bush team's attempt to stop manual recounts.

November 14: Palm Beach County votes to temporarily suspend its hand recount; Dade County begins a selected hand recount of only about 1 percent of its votes in questioned precincts. Harris delays certification of the state's votes until 2 p.m. EST November 15 so three heavily Democratic counties can explain why they should conduct hand recounts of their ballots.

November 15: Harris says she will not accept further hand recounts and asks the state Supreme Court to order the halt of manual recounts; Broward County decides to begin a hand recount; AP estimates shrink Bush's lead to only 286 votes.

November 16: Lawyers for Bush submit written arguments to the U.S. federal appeals court in Atlanta to end the recounts. Democrats also filed papers with the federal court to oppose the Republican bid. Attorneys for the Gore campaign file an emergency motion in Leon County state court challenging the certification of the results of the Florida presidential election. The Florida Supreme Court rules Palm Beach County can proceed with a manual recount of ballots.

November 17:The Florida Supreme Court blocks Harris from any vote certification until it can rule on the Democrats' motion to allow hand recounts to be counted. The midnight deadline strikes for counties to receive overseas absentee ballots. Miami-Dade County reverses an earlier decision and votes to conduct a full manual recount. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals denies GOP request to stop manual recounts on constitutional grounds.

November 18: After absentee ballots are counted, uncertified results show Republican George W. Bush leads Democrat Al Gore by 930 votes.

November 20: The Florida Supreme Court holds a hearing on whether Harris should consider hand-recounted ballots before she certifies results of the presidential election. Circuit Judge Jorge Labarga says he lacks authority under the U.S. Constitution to order a new presidential election in Palm Beach County.

November 21: The Florida Supreme Court orders hand counts to continue, and gives counties five days to complete them.

November 22: Bush running mate Dick Cheney suffers a mild heart attack, his fourth. He undergoes surgery to open a constricted artery at a Washington hospital and is released two days later.

November 23: Miami-Dade County officials stop the hand recount there, saying they will not have enough time to complete it before the deadline given by the Florida Supreme Court. Democrats blame the canvassing board's decision on a raucous Republican demonstration, accusing the GOP of intimidating the board into quitting -- a charge Republicans deny.

November 24: To the surprise of many observers, the U.S. Supreme Court agrees to hear Bush's appeal of the Florida high court ruling allowing hand recounts to proceed.

November 26: Harris certifies the results of the Florida vote after the state Supreme Court deadline expires, giving Bush a 537-vote lead over Gore. Harris does not include results from Palm Beach County, which completed its manual recount about two hours after the deadline. Bush says his transition team, led by Cheney, will move forward with planning an administration.

November 27: Gore's lawyers move to contest the Florida result in a circuit court in Tallahassee. Gore tells the nation the result Harris certified wrongly excluded thousands of votes that were never tallied. Meanwhile, the General Services Administration announces it will withhold the funding and office space for planning a transition until the election dispute is resolved.

November 28: N. Sanders Sauls, the judge hearing Gore's election contest, refuses Gore's request for a speedy resolution and sets a December 2 hearing on the case.

November 29: A committee of Florida lawmakers meets to consider whether to convene a special session of the state Legislature to appoint electors on its own. Sauls orders all ballots from Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties -- more than 1 million -- shipped to Tallahassee for possible hand counts in Gore's contest.

November 30: Florida lawmakers vote along party lines to recommend a special session to name electors if the election contest is not resolved by December 12, six days before the Electoral College meets. The Republican-led legislature is expected to name electors pledged to Bush.

December 1: The U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments over whether the Florida Supreme Court overstepped its authority by ordering Harris to include the manual recounts in certified state results. Meanwhile, the Florida Supreme Court upholds Sauls' ruling putting off a hand recount in Gore's contest.

December 2: Sauls opens two days of proceedings on Gore's challenge to the Florida results. The vice president asks for a count of about 14,000 "undervotes" from Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties.

December 3: With Gore's election contest in court in Tallahassee, Bush meets with Republican congressional leaders at his Texas ranch to discuss the transition.

December 4: Sauls rejects Gore's contest to the Florida results, finding the vice president failed to show that hand recounts would have affected the results. Gore appeals to the Florida Supreme Court. Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court asks the Florida Supreme Court to explain its reasoning in extending the hand recounts, returning the case to Tallahassee and putting off any action in Bush's appeal objecting to the recounts.

December 6: Two lawsuits asking judges to toss out some 25,000 absentee ballots in predominantly Republican Seminole and Martin counties go to trial in Tallahassee. Florida House Speaker Tom Feeney and Senate President John McKay, both Republicans, announce the state Legislature will convene to select electors.

December 7: Gore's legal team argues before the Florida Supreme Court that Sauls was wrong to uphold the certification of Florida's election results. Bush's attorneys urge the seven-member panel to let Sauls' decision stand.

December 8: Divided 4-3, the Florida Supreme Court orders manual recounts in all counties with significant numbers of presidential undervotes; Bush appeals the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court and seeks injunctive relief to stop the hand recounts. The Florida Legislature meets to begin the process of choosing electors on its own. Circuit judges in Tallahassee rule against Democratic challenges to absentee ballots in Martin and Seminole counties.

December 9: The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 ruling, halts the manual recounts and sets a hearing on the matter two days later.

December 11: Bush's lawyers argue before the U.S. Supreme Court in that the Florida high court again overstepped its bounds by ordering a manual recount of undervotes in Gore's election contest. Gore's lawyers argue that the U.S. Supreme Court has no reason to intervene in the state court contest.


Wednesday, December 13, 2000



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