‘We're More Cognizant': Lessons Learned Since the 2000 Election

A lot has changed since then

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Recent polls show President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden in a tight race here in battleground Florida. Some worry about a 2000 election repeat, one that turned into a month-long recount. 

Even though that infamous presidential race was 20 years ago, it’s safe to say some Floridians are still a little scarred as we head into yet another high stakes election. 

However, experts say a lot has changed since then. 

“One big difference between 2000 and today is that we're more cognizant that there could be problems,” said Dr. Charles Zelden, a political science expert and professor at NSU. “That’s why you’re seeing so many people vote early because they want to make sure their vote gets in and gets counted.”

He says there have been a lot of changes since the Bush v. Gore race and recount which was ultimately decided by the Supreme Court. 

“The rules that shape our voting are much more, they’re uniform. They’re consistent, and they’re written with the idea that in a close race we'll have clear procedures for recounts,” Zelden said.

There was some deja vu in 2018 with those razor-thin Senate and governor races. And there was a major spotlight on the Broward County Supervisor of Elections Office. 

“The problem with what happened in Broward two years ago was the vote was razor thin and what we had was basically bad management,” Zelden said. “Mistakes were made and mistakes that shouldn't have been made were made. Hopefully what we have now is a better administered supervisor of elections office and hopefully it won’t be a razor thin race.

Close or not, Zelden says the key word for Tuesday is patience, pointing to the fact that we never have an actual winner until you have a formal certified count by the states. And in Florida, he says that could take at least 10 days. 

“There’s always going to be time after the election where votes are included or excluded because we put the ones that are questionable at the end, like those provisional ballots," he said. "So patience.”  

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