Richard L. Hasen

Bush v. Gore left the country with one “central legacy,” said Richard L. Hasen. Ten years after that controversial decision divided the nation, Americans no longer believe in the fairness of our country’s elections. Before 2000, most people accepted the results of democratic voting, even when the results were razor-thin. But that all ended when the Supreme Court voted 5–4, in December 2000, to end the disputed Florida recount and hand the White House to George W. Bush. That year, political operatives and partisans learned that our voting system is flawed and inaccurate, and that “it makes sense to fight rather than concede.”

Now even congressional and state races often end in “hyperpartisan controversy,” charges of cheating, and protracted lawsuits. Both political parties exploit this fear: Republicans now routinely rile up their base with unsubstantiated charges of widespread voter fraud, while Democrats accuse Republicans of systematically suppressing poor and minority votes. The U.S. used to be a nation with a profound respect for democracy; since Bush v. Gore, we suspect that our votes aren’t really counted, and that elections are stolen, not won.