BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The fight for the presidency 20 years ago was one for the history books.
“When I say ‘General Election 2000,’ what comes to mind. What happened 20 years ago?” asked 7 Eyewitness news reporter Nikki DeMentri during an interview with Associate Professor of Political Science at University of Buffalo and elections expert Jacob Neiheisel.
He answered: “Election debacle I suppose would be the mostly polite way to put that.”
Neiheisel said there are several takeaways from what happened nationally during the election in 2000. One of those lessons being a potential repeat of Florida this time around.
“The potential is absolutely there with so many absentee ballots being on the table this time around,” Neiheisel said.
Here in Western New York, Erie County Board of Elections officials said 78,000 absentee ballots have been requested so far. It is the same unprecedented demand for counties around the country.
Neiheisel said 2000 taught us to “pack our patience” which will be key once again this November.
“Given the potential, the very real possibility for very tightly contested races in any number of states that are going to draw quite a bit of attention after the election,” said Neiheisel.
Another takeaway is investing in elections. Shortly after 2000 laws were passed to provide funding to local board of elections offices to train poll worker and buy new machines.
“The ability to invest in election infrastructure is something we seemed to have lost focus on because there hasn’t been a Florida. That was a one time infusion of money to the states,” said Neiheisel.
He said the cautionary tale from 2000 lies in the parties’ actions. Neiheisel believes decisions parties made then and now may not end up being in their best interest long-term.
“There is the potential of course for a 2000 times a few where there’s going to be immense scrutiny, we’re not going to know what happened there on election night and it’s going to be decided by various teams of lawyers determining how things should be counted,” he said.