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Why So Many Recount Lawsuits? Go Back to 2000

Steve Newborn
WUSF Public Media

The battle over Florida's three statewide recounts rages on in the courts. Why? You have to go back to the contested 2000 presidential election.

The glut of lawsuits isn't new - political scientist Susan MacManus says 47 lawsuits were filed during the 2000 presidential recount. And lingering memories of that recount are foremost in the minds of current Republican and Democratic officials. In 2000, she says Democrats made the mistake of assuming that the recount legal battle would be decided in a state court. But Republicans ended up taking the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in their favor.

"So the bottom line is, from a legal perspective," she said, "both sides are keeping every legal avenue possible open, until they really see where the contested ballots lie."

Lawsuits that can be expected after the recount is completed can be over things like undervotes, overvotes - too many candidates marked on a ballot - or how provisional and overseas ballots are counted.

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Steve Newborn is WUSF's assistant news director as well as a reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.
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