(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.


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 67). 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 receipt 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 2223). Noting
the closeness of the election, the Court explained that on
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