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(Slip Opinion) Cite as: 531 U. S. ____ (2000) 1

NOTICE: This opinion is subject to formal revision before publication in the preliminary print of the United States Reports. Readers are requested to notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Court of the United States, Wash- ington, D. C. 20543, of any typographical or other formal errors, in order that corrections may be made before the preliminary print goes to press.

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GEORGE W. BUSH, ET AL., PETITIONERS v.

ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE FLORIDA SUPREME COURT

On December 8, 2000, the Supreme Court of Florida

ordered that the Circuit Court of Leon County tabulate by

hand 9,000 ballots in Miami-Dade County.

It also ordered

the inclusion in the certified vote totals of 215 votes identi-fied

in Palm Beach County and 168 votes identified in

Miami-Dade County for Vice President Albert Gore, Jr.,

and Senator Joseph Lieberman, Democratic Candidates

for President and Vice President. The Supreme Court

noted that petitioner, Governor George W. Bush asserted

that the net gain for Vice President Gore in Palm Beach

County was 176 votes, and directed the Circuit Court to

resolve that dispute on remand.

___ So. 2d, at ___ (slip

op., at 4, n. 6). The court further held that relief would

require manual recounts in all Florida counties where so-called

“undervotes” had not been subject to manual tabu-lation.

The court ordered all manual recounts to begin at

once. Governor Bush and Richard Cheney, Republican

Candidates for the Presidency and Vice Presidency, filed

an emergency application for a stay of this mandate. On

December 9, we granted the application, treated the appli-BUSH v. GORE

cation as a petition for a writ of certiorari, and granted

The proceedings leading to the present controversy are

discussed in some detail in our opinion in Bush v. Palm

Beach County Canvassing Bd., ante, p. ____ (per curiam)

(Bush I). On November 8, 2000, the day following the

Presidential election, the Florida Division of Elections

reported that petitioner, Governor Bush, had received

2,909,135 votes, and respondent, Vice President Gore, had

received 2,907,351 votes, a margin of 1,784 for Governor

Bush. Because Governor Bush’ s margin of victory was

less than “one-half of a percent . . . of the votes cast,” an

automatic machine recount was conducted under

§102.141(4) of the election code, the results of which

showed Governor Bush still winning the race but by a

diminished margin. Vice President Gore then sought

manual recounts in Volusia, Palm Beach, Broward, and

Miami-Dade Counties, pursuant to Florida’ s election

protest provisions. Fla. Stat. §102.166 (2000). A dispute

arose concerning the deadline for local county canvassing

boards to submit their returns to the Secretary of State

(Secretary). The Secretary declined to waive the Novem-ber

14 deadline imposed by statute. §§102.111, 102.112.

The Florida Supreme Court, however, set the deadline at

November 26. We granted certiorari and vacated the

Florida Supreme Court’ s decision, finding considerable

uncertainty as to the grounds on which it was based.

Bush I, ante, at ___–___ (slip. op., at 6–7). On December

11, the Florida Supreme Court issued a decision on re-mand

reinstating that date. ___ So. 2d ___, ___ (slip op. at

On November 26, the Florida Elections Canvassing

Commission certified the results of the election and de-clared

Governor Bush the winner of Florida’ s 25 electoral

votes. On November 27, Vice President Gore, pursuant to

Florida’ s contest provisions, filed a complaint in LeonCite as: 531 U. S. ____ (2000) 3

County Circuit Court contesting the certification. Fla.

Stat. §102.168 (2000). He sought relief pursuant to

§102.168(3)(c), which provides that “[r]eceipt of a number

of illegal votes or rejection of a number of legal votes

sufficient to change or place in doubt the result of the

election” shall be grounds for a contest. The Circuit Court

denied relief, stating that Vice President Gore failed to

meet his burden of proof. He appealed to the First District

Court of Appeal, which certified the matter to the Florida

Accepting jurisdiction, the Florida Supreme Court af-firmed

in part and reversed in part. Gore v. Harris, ___

So. 2d. ____ (2000). The court held that the Circuit Court

had been correct to reject Vice President Gore’ s challenge

to the results certified in Nassau County and his challenge

to the Palm Beach County Canvassing Board’ s determina-tion

that 3,300 ballots cast in that county were not, in the

The Supreme Court held that Vice President Gore had

satisfied his burden of proof under §102.168(3)(c) with

respect to his challenge to Miami-Dade County’ s failure to

tabulate, by manual count, 9,000 ballots on which the

machines had failed to detect a vote for President (“under-votes”).

___ So. 2d., at ___ (slip. op., at 22–23). Noting

the closeness of the election, the Court explained that “[o]n

this record, there can be no question that there are legal

votes within the 9,000 uncounted votes sufficient to place

the results of this election in doubt.” Id., at ___ (slip. op.,

at 35). A “legal vote,” as determined by the Supreme

Court, is “one in which there is a ‘ clear indication of the

intent of the voter. ’ ” Id., at ____ (slip op., at 25). The

court therefore ordered a hand recount of the 9,000 ballots

in Miami-Dade County. Observing that the contest provi-sions

vest broad discretion in the circuit judge to “provide

any relief appropriate under such circumstances,” Fla.

Stat. §102.168(8) (2000), the Supreme Court further held

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