Usually, presidential elections go smoothly, with a winner being declared immediately after Election Day. But, as we see now in 2020, that isn’t always the case. In fact, there have been several presidential elections throughout the nation’s history that suffered controversy and took a while to work out.
In 1800, Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr received the same number of votes in the Electoral College. This tie forced the House of Representatives to meet and vote to choose the winner. Instead of letting each representative vote for their preferred candidate, the representatives from each state teamed up in state delegations, each of which got one vote.
In 1960, the presidential election between Republican Richard Nixon and Democrat John F. Kennedy was challenged by many Republicans who thought Kennedy had won because of election fraud. Eventually, Kennedy was accepted as the winner, as Nixon admitted defeat.
The 2000 presidential election between Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Al Gore saw a dispute over the vote count. The main controversy occurred in Florida, a swing state, whose winner would decide the election.
Other confusing ballots with punch holes not properly punched (called “hanging chads”) and the confusing “butterfly ballot” that mistakenly caused voters to vote for a third party candidate led to a huge national debate over the validity of the election. To top it all off, Al Gore had won the popular vote and lost out in the Electoral College vote, which had only happened a few times before in American history.
Attitudes from the 2000 election still resonate today, with many Americans believing that a Supreme Court case may once again decide the winner of the presidential election. Before the 2020 election, both Democrats and Republicans urged their candidates not to concede, especially with the uncertainty mass mail-in voting had brought. Despite the confusion, America has a procedure for the peaceful transition of power.