ABSTRACT

In the aftermath of the landmark ruling Bush v. Gore (2000), two words from the decision stuck in the minds of many policy makers and advocates of election reform: equal protection. In the decision, the Supreme Court ruled that Florida’s ballot recount method was an unconstitutional violation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. Specifically, the Court argued that “having once granted the right to vote on equal terms, the State may not, by later arbitrary and disparate treatment, value one person’s vote over that of another” (Bush v. Gore, 2000). Noting that a recount in Florida would require subjective judgment of voter intent based on “ballot cards designed to be perforated by a stylus but which, either through error or deliberate omission, [had] not been perforated with sufficient precision for a machine to count them,” the Court ruled that Florida’s recount mechanisms did “not satisfy the minimum requirement for non-arbitrary treatment of voters necessary to secure the fundamental right [of equal protection]” (Bush v. Gore, 2000).