One of the quirks of the American electoral system is that the president and vice president are not elected by a popular vote but on the electoral votes of the various states. Usually, the same method of counting comes up with the same results. But four times in American history, a president was elected by the Electoral College who did not get the majority of American votes. Three of those instances took place in the 19th Century. But the most famous occurrence happened during the 2000 election in which then-Vice President Al Gore beat then-Governor George W. Bush in the popular vote but lost the electoral vote.

But that was only part of the circus that ended that strange election year.

Because Bush had won Florida by less than 600 votes, the matter went into an automatic recount. Then recount caused both campaigns to invade the state with armies of lawyers and activists to make sure that the results turned out in their favor. The potential for vote fraud in the cases of close elections is very real and has swung close races from time to time.

Because many of the precincts in Florida used a punch card system in many cases who voted for what became a matter of subjective judgment. Election officials who were hand-counting the ballots had to deal with hanging chads and dimpled chads as well as representatives of each campaign arguing over which situation indicated what.

At the same time, the Gore campaign tried to restrict the recount to individual counties where Democrats were in the majority whereas the Bush campaign demanded a state-wide recount. Soon it became apparent that the Gore people meant to stretch out the recount until it brought about a result it wanted.

To make a long story short, to avoid a constitutional crisis that would have been caused by an election not being resolved when it came time to swear in a new president, the United States Supreme Court put a stop to the farce and declared George W. Bush the winner. Despite the fact that several media organizations conducted studies that concluded that Bush would have been the winner had the recount gone to the bitter end, a number of Democrats groused that he was not a legitimate president.

“Selected, not elected.”

Could the problem happen again? Do not bet against it. The Trump campaign has already declared that it retains all legal options should something unseemly be suspected.

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