Last updated on: 8/6/2021 | Author:

Did Florida’s Laws That Disenfranchised People with Felony Convictions Cause Al Gore to Lose the 2000 Presidential Elections?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)

Editor’s Note: This question has been archived as a point of historical interest and will no longer be updated as of July 21, 2021.

The U.S. Federal Election Commission, in their report titled “Federal Elections 2000: Presidential General Election Results,” listed the top Florida vote recipients in the 2000 general election for U.S. President as follows:


Florida – 2000 Presidential General Election Results


Candidate Political Party Total Votes Percent
Bush, George W. Republican 2,912,790 48.85%
Gore, Al Democrat 2,912,253 48.84%
Nader, Ralph Green 97,488 1.63%
Buchanan, Pat Reform 17,484 0.29%
Browne, Harry Libertarian 16,415 0.28%
[Editor’s Note: Florida had approximately 827,000 disenfranchised felons in 2000 according to Jeff Manza and Christopher Uggen’s 2006 book Locked Out.]
2000 - Federal Elections 2000: Presidential General Election Results

PRO (yes)


Jeff Manza, PhD, Professor of Sociology and Political Science, and Associate Director and Faculty Fellow at the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University, and Christopher Uggen, PhD, Distinguished McKnight Professor of Sociology at the University of Minnesota, stated in their Dec. 2003 article “Democratic Contraction: Political Consequences of Felon Disenfranchisement in the United States,” published in the American Sociological Review:

“Although the outcome of the extraordinarily close 2000 presidential election could have been altered by a large number of factors, it would almost certainly have been reversed had voting rights been extended to any category of disenfranchised felons…

Had disenfranchised felons been permitted to vote, we estimate that Gore’s [national] margin of victory in the popular vote would have surpassed one million votes… Regardless of the popular vote, however, one state — Florida — held the balance of power.

If disenfranchised felons in Florida had been permitted to vote, Democrat Gore would certainly have carried the state, and the election.”

Dec. 2003 - Democratic Contraction: Political Consequences of Felon Disenfranchisement in the United States


Reynolds Holding, JD, a legal columnist and investigative reporter, stated in his Nov. 1, 2006 article “Why Can’t Felons Vote?,” published in Time magazine:

“In 1800, no state prohibited felons from voting. On the eve of the Civil War, 80% of the states did, largely to block African Americans, who though rarely allowed to vote were disproportionately represented among felons.

Today, the impact of these laws still falls disproportionately on poor, minority males, a fact that seems to have skewed more than a few elections.

Anyone familiar with the details of the deadlocked 2000 presidential race will recall that tens of thousands of likely Democratic voters were disenfranchised because of Florida’s laws against voting by felons. A relative handful could have made Al Gore president.”

Nov. 1, 2006


Sasha Abramsky, MA, Senior Fellow For Democracy at the Demos Foundation, stated in his 2006 book Conned: How Millions Went to Prison, Lost the Vote, and Helped Send George W. Bush to the White House:

“Whatever the political antecedents of the problem, this infection of America’s body politic came to a head with the 2000 election — when, for the first time, a strong argument could be made that modern disenfranchisement had actually helped determine the outcome of a presidential contest. After all, upward of half a million Floridians were unable to vote because of felony convictions.

Given the closeness of the election results in that state, if those men and women had been entitled to cast ballots, even if only one if fifty of them had bothered to go to the polls, had those few split 60-40 in Al Gore’s favor — the Democrat would have been the president come inauguration day 2001.”


CON (no)


Irene Dieter, a campaign coordinator in the California Green Party, stated in her May 2003 article for the Green Party “Dispelling the Myth of Election 2000: Did Nader Cost Gore the Election?”:

“Gore’s diehard Democratic Party supporters have declared Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader the reason their candidate lost the 2000 presidential election, even though numerous other factors in the climactic Florida vote-counting drama affected the outcome.

Instead of focusing solely on the votes Ralph Nader took from Al Gore, a balanced analysis would also take into account the following:

1. voters who were disenfranchised;

2. voting systems and procedures that failed;

3. the party-line United States Supreme Court vote declaring George W. Bush the winner; and

4. Democrats who voted for Bush or not at all.”

May 2003


Greg Palast, a investigative journalist, stated in a Feb. 16, 2001 broadcast on BBCNews in a segment titled “What really happened in Florida?”:

“They said they were all felons, serious criminals barred from voting. As it turns out, almost none were. Local officials raised a ruckus and DBT [Database Technologies] issued a new list naming 58,000 felons. But the one county which went through the whole expensive process of checking the new list name by name found it was still 95% wrong…

Whacky butterfly ballots caused thousands in this Democrat town [Palm Beach] to accidentally mess up and they were refused replacement ballots promised them by state law…

Palm Beach voting machines misread 27,000 ballots. Jeb Bush’s Secretary of State, Katharine Harris, stopped them counting these votes by hand. She did the same to Gadstone, one of Florida’s blackest, poorest and most Democrat counties, where machines failed to count one in eight ballots. Again Harris stopped the hand count. This alone cost Gore another 700 votes, in an election in which Harris declared George Bush winner by only 537 votes.”

Feb. 16, 2001


Lowell Ponte, a freelance writer and commentator, wrote in his July 18, 2003 article in FrontPage magazine titled “Jesse Jackson: A Real Con Man”:

“Analysis of the 2000 vote in Florida revealed that Gore came close to winning only because as many as 5,000 felons illegally voted. We do not know for whom they cast secret ballots, but various county records show that 75 to 82 percent of these criminals typically had registered as Democrats.”

July 18, 2003