Recount is an American movie from 2008. The movie is about the U.S presidential election in 2000, from the day when the American Supreme Court decided to end the recount in Florida. The movie is written by Danny Strong and directed by Jay Roach.
In class we answered a few questions before we watched the movie:
What is the Electoral College?
You may think that the Electoral College is a place, but it’s really not. The Electoral college is a process. It was the founding fathers that established it in the Constitution as a compromise between the Presidential election by voting in Congress and the Presidential election by popular votes from citizens. The Electoral College consists of a selection of electors, 538 electors.
Why do we have an Electoral College and why was it considered necessary?
The Electoral College was created for two purposes. The first was to create a buffer between population and the selection of a President. The second is that it is a part of the government that gave extra power to the smaller states of the U.S. USA is the only country in the world that has this kind of a system. It was considered necessary because it gave as I wrote above, the smaller state an advantage. It gave them a political leverage, which was supposed to make the election fair.
What is the official procedure for presidential elections? Illustrate an approximate timeline of key events in any given presidential election year.
First, the U.S Constitution has some requirements for a presidential candidate. The candidate has to be a natural born citizen. The candidate has to be of the minimum age of 35 years. Lastly, the candidate has to have been a U.S resident for 14 years.
Step one: Primaries and caucuses
There are many people who want to be president. All of these people have their own ideas about what a well-functioning government is. People with similar ideas usually belong to the same party. this is where primaries and caucuses come in. The candidates from each political party campaign throughout the country to try to get as many followers as possible. In a caucus, party members select the best candidate through a series of discussions and votes. In a primary, party members vote for the best candidate who will represent them in the general election.
Step two: National conventions
Each party holds a national convention where there is selected a final president nominee. At each convention, the presidential candidate chooses a running “vice presidential candidate”. After this, there is the presidential candidate’s campaign where the candidates try to win the support from the population.
Step three: General Election
After the campaigns are finished, the general election begins. This is when people in every state across the whole of the U.S vote for one president and one vice president. When the people vote, they are actually voting for a group. This group is called electors.
Step four: Electoral College
The fourth step is the Electoral college. This is what I wrote about earlier in this post. This is a system where each state gets a certain number of electors based on its representation in Congress. Then each elector cast one vote following the general election and the candidate that gets more than half of the votes (270) wins.
The newly elected president and vice president are inaugurated in January.
Is it possible for a president to win the popular vote but lose the election? How?
Yes, because the U.S has the system called the Electoral College it is highly possible that a candidate wins the popular vote, but loses the election.
Who were the candidates in the 2000 election and what happened?
The 2000 election was the 54th presidential election in the USA. The election was on the 7th of November 2000. The candidates where George W. Bush for president and Dick Cheney for vice president on the Republican side and Al Gore for president and Joe Lieberman for vice president on the Democratic side. Bush and Cheney won the election after several recounts. The controversy revolved around the result in Florida. Their result would determine the whole election. Several people meant that Al Gore had a claim for a recount as there was a difference of 500-2000 votes.
How was the Supreme court involved?
The Supreme Court was involved in the recount controversy in Florida 2000. They decided that it was in conflict with the constitution, so therefore Bush was declared the election winner.
We also answered a few questions while watching the movie:
In every presidential election, the media will announce the new President and Vice President by the morning after election day; however, when is the President and Vice-President actually elected?
The President and Vice-President are actually elected a long time before the election. I’m unsure of when this is exactly.
What does it mean to “concede?”
To concede means to acknowledge something before it is officially established.
Why did Al Gore retract his concession?
Al Gore retracted because the numbers that came from Florida did not add up compared to the numbers Bush presented.
Why would a machine recount of Florida’s ballots tally a slightly different number than the first time? How was this a threat to the Bush campaign?
A machine recount is not 100% correct as some of the holes made in the voting ballot. This is why the machine count tallied a different number than the first count.
Why did the Democrats initiate a hand recount?
This was because the machine recount did not pick up on all the votes as the voting ballot was badly designed. This was also a threat to the Bush campaign because this meant that they might lose his Presidency.
What trend did the Democrats discover about old voting machines and the neighborhoods they serve?
They discovered that the machines were old and that the voting offices had a lack of maintenance. This resulted in the machines getting stacked up and then this led to the holes in the voting ballot being filled. The richer states did not have this problem. This is something that could highly affect the result of the election as a lot of the people from the poorer neighborhoods where Democrats.
Did the Republicans actively try to stop a hand recount? Why?
Yes, they tried to stop the hand recount as they also recognized the problem in the poorer states but didn’t act on it as it was in their favor.
Why did the Republicans want to count absentee ballots?
They wanted to count the absentee ballots as this was an advantage for them. if they put the absentee ballots together with the other votes, the percentage of Democratic voters would most likely decrease.
Are absentee ballots usually counted on Election Day?
These ballots are only counted when the election race is very tight. This is because the absentee ballots are a small percentage of all the ballots.
More questions that we answered:
In which court did James Baker think the Republicans would definitely lose?
In the State Court.
Which court did he think they would be more likely to win in the long run?
In the Supreme Court.
What did Baker mean when he suggested that “it’s time to exercise our first amendment right”? What is the first amendment?
The first Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, ensuring that there is no prohibition on the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances.
What were the advisory opinions?
The law on whether or not you can demand a recount was very vague. The advisory opinion on Bush’s side was that unless there was something physically wrong with the system of the counting machines, there should be no recount. However, the Gore campaign had their own opinion on this topic which claimed the opposite of what Bush claimed.
Who represented Gore during the trials? Why was this lawyer recruited?
David Boies, because he was clever and a good spokesman.
What is the Equal Protection Clause?
The Equal Protection Clause is a part of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, and it says that no state shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction “the equal protection of the laws”.
Why did the Bush campaign think they had a small victory when they learned the Supreme Court didn’t set counting standards?
Because this meant that they were a small step ahead. While the Gore campaign would gain from a count with the possibility of more votes, the Bush campaign didn’t want to risk the lead that they had gained.
How do you feel about the fact that many counties did not run their ballots through the machines again?
I think that this shows an unethical and unfair attitude. I think that the fact that they could not be bothered to recount really shows a lack of respect.
Do you think Democrats should have begun planning for lawsuits earlier?
Yes, I think that they should have considered this earlier. The reason that they didn’t was that they thought the recount would give other results and that it wouldn’t be necessary for this.
Do you think the Texas voting law signed by Governor Bush helped Gore’s case or was it irrelevant to Gore winning in the Florida Supreme Court?
I think the law was relevant to help Gore’s case as it made it possible for them to demand a recount.