As the election returns poured in, it was thought that the presidential question had been settled when it was revealed that uncertainty and irregularities had cropped up in Florida. The newspapers hurriedly splashed ink on their front pages crying of “the iniquity in Florida.” The Democrat presidential candidate had won the popular vote and was leading in the Electoral College but the “sunshine state,” which was now in dispute, had cast an uncertain cloud over the results. Without Florida’s electoral votes, neither candidate could win the presidency. Charges of voter intimidation hung like a pall on the nation.
The voting in other states was also extremely close, and, like Florida, thoughts of voting irregularities persisted. The Republican candidate had been governor of one of the largest states in the nation and had recently defeated a very popular Democrat for that office. His running mate had been a seasoned political insider and had experience in previous administrations. The Democrat candidate had decades of experience in government as well, and was thought to be a shoe-in for the presidency. He had not been tied to the scandals, which had plagued the previous administration. The recent impeachment trial had left a stain on the Republicans, many believing that they had abused their power. The Republican had campaigned on immigration and education reform as well as putting forth a plan to change the way in which government workers were employed. His opponents had called into question his military record as being less than honorable.
They went to great lengths to call him out in the media. Both candidates tried to convince the voters of their fiscal experience. The economy had been in flux for sometime and the public needed to be assured that the new President could handle the economic downturn. A bubble in the markets had recently burst, the result of too much speculation in the market. News reports prematurely reported that the Democrat had won Florida. The statement was retracted after more election returns were counted. Then the Republican seemed victorious and the Democrat privately conceded before retracting his concession. “THE BATTLE WON” read one newspaper, thinking the Republican victorious. Others weren’t so sure. “THE RESULT: WHAT IS IT? – another headline pondered. Soon it became clear that the nation was embroiled in a Constitutional crisis.
It was the first time in Presidential election history that a candidate had won the popular vote by a margin of several hundred thousand and yet lost the electoral vote. The difference in the popular and electoral votes was reason enough for conflict. But the larger and more troubling issue was the numerous irregularities in county ballots, making it difficult to ascertain whom someone actually voted for. There was alleged voter intimidation and flawed election procedures. One of the major points of contention centered upon the design of ballots. One of the major points of contention centered upon the design of ballots. Critics charged that the configuration caused an unfair skew toward the Republican candidate.
Adding still more to the controversy, were the charges offered by some Democrats that a sort of quid pro quo was in place to persuade the high-level political office holders in Florida to decide for the Republicans. The two presidential candidates began a protracted legal battle in the aftermath of the election. Each sent lawyers and other representatives to Florida to try to supervise the re-counting of the votes.
The ultimate decision was taken out of the hands of the voters and entrusted to a legal body consisting of members of the United States Supreme Court. After weeks of deliberation and endless legal maneuvering, the august panel ultimately decided the election in favor of the Republican – by a margin of just one vote. After the historic ruling in favor of the Republican candidate many were jubilant, many were not. One stinging headline read “THE FRAUD CONSUMMATED” The Democrat candidate conceded the office and disappeared from the public view for a time. The new President may have wished he’d lost the election as his mettle would soon be tested in the aftermath of one of the most trying events in the nations history.