ORLANDO, Fla. — On Tuesday, November 7, 2000 the major networks were watching returns come in. Big boards were lighting up. New York was blue, Georgia was red, and Florida had gone blue for Al Gore.
Then it didn’t.
What followed was confusion and chaos. From hanging chads to a Brooks Brothers riot, Florida was in the center of a political storm, and Mac Stipanovich had a front row seat.
“I was in a Latin class and pursuing a master’s degree in mid-level French history at FSU because I didn’t have a boat at the time and my first grandchild had not been born,” says Mac Stipanovich recalling the day he was called in to help Florida Secretary of State Kathrine Harris. “I did go in on the afternoon of November the 9th, two days after the election, and did not leave until the vote was certified on my 52nd birthday, November 26th.”
As tumultuous as the 2000 recount was, with cases litigated all the way up to the United States Supreme Court, Stipanovich says 2020 could be worse.
“In 2000 it was basically a question of what was the appropriate legal standard to be used to ascertain voter intent,” says Stipanovich. “That is not going to be the issue here.”
Stipanovich points to the three recounts from 2018 when allegations of fraud, that later proved to be unfounded, were tossed around by candidates and campaigns.
“In 2018 Rick Scott and other Republican candidates, who were in razor thin races, made wild accusations of fraud that were unsubstantiated,” says Stipanovich pointing to an 18-month investigation by FDLE.
Unlike 2000 and 2018, Florida’s high court is now made up entirely of justices appointed by Republicans; with three appointed by Governor Ron DeSantis. Florida’s Secretary of State Laurel Lee is also a DeSantis appointee, unlike Harris who in 1998 was elected Secretary of State before the position was changed from an elected office to an appointed office.
Cox Media Group