Joe Biden claimed victory in the 2020 US election on Saturday, November 7 after many drawn out days of counting ballots.
Though many are celebrating his win, Donald Trump refuses to accept the decision, insisting it ‘isn’t over’ and could content the results all the way up to America’s highest courts.
Have any presidents or candidates contended the results of an election before?
Have the US election results been contested before?
There have been four major contentious elections in American history – 1876, 1888, 1960 and 2000.
The first three were not contested in the courts, but illustrated issues that would change how Americans would come to vote in modern times.
11 years after the Civil War, Rutherford B. Hayes faced off against Samuel Tilden.
On Election Day, there was reported widespread voter intimidation against African-American Republican voters throughout the South.
Three of those Southern states – Florida, Louisiana and South Carolina – had enough votes invalidated after these claims to switch the victory from Tilden to Hayes, giving him a 185-184 majority in the Electoral College.
Two competing sets of election results were sent to Congress, forcing them to create a bipartisan commission to determine how to allocate the electors from the disputed states.
Rutherford Hayes would go on to become president.
Though this wasn’t contested, it was considered a scandalous election year between Grover Cleveland and Benjamin Harrison.
This election resulted in the adoption of secret ballots for voting after many voters were accused of selling their votes to willing buyers.
The 1960 election which pitted John F. Kennedy – JFK – against Nixon was one of the closest popular votes in election history.
JFK beat Nixon by around 100,000 votes, a 0.2% difference.
The 0.2% difference in results meant that many Republicans accused the democrats of voter fraud.
The 2000 election between George W Bush and Al Gore was one of the only times a candidate has officially taken legal action to the courts over a decision.
Seemingly outdated technology was the cause.
On Election Day, the media discovered that a butterfly ballot, a punch card ballot with a design that violated Florida state law, had confused thousands of voters in Palm Beach County.
This meant many voted for the wrong candidate unwittingly.
The other issue this election year was because over 60,000 ballots in Florida, most of them on punch cards, had registered no vote for president on the punch card readers.
But on many of the punch cards, the little pieces of paper that get punched out when someone votes – known as chads – were still hanging by one, two or three corners and had gone uncounted.
Gore pushed for the courts to have those ballots counted by hand to try to work out the real results, as winning Florida would’ve helped him win the electoral college, however, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Congress had set a deadline for states to choose electors, so there was no more time to count votes.
Gore conceded the next day.
What happens if the results are contested?
The road to the new presidential term can take different paths following election day.
Typically, any issues need to be resolved by December 8. This is when states choose their electors to ensure approval from Congress.
By December 14, the Electoral College meets and votes for the candidates chosen by their state.
The new term of Congress gets sworn in by January 3 in order for them to certify the official winner of the election by January 6, and the new President is sworn in on January 20.
If the results are still being contested by January 6, Congress will hold a contingent election. This is where the house will vote for the president and that result will be final.
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US election 2020
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