The short answer to both questions is "No!". Here's the longer answers.
The first question is still uttered as a truth by every Democrat who voted for Al Gore. Never mind that it's egotistical for Democrats to assume that everyone else should forget their candidate and vote for theirs. These people, and I have to include Republicans here, still feel that the two major parties are entitled to everyone else's vote. The truth is, of course, that there is nothing in the Constitution that even hints at a two party system for the country. In fact, it's quite the opposite. There are several references in the Constitution that indicate the Founding Fathers assumed that there would always be more than two strong candidates vying for the people's vote. It's even interesting to note that in the first several Presidential elections in this country, there were always at least three candidates receiving electoral votes.
Unfortunately, the Republicans and Democrats just don't understand the mindset of the third party voter. The fact is, if Nader didn't run, most of the people who voted for him would have either found another third party candidate to vote for, or would have dropped out of the system and not voted at all. Oh sure, a handful would have voted for Gore, but not enough to get him the win. The mindset of the majority of Nader voters is that they are tired of the two party system and the candidates that it produces, so there is no way that they are going to end up supporting it.
When the Democrats say that Nader made Gore lose, it's really just an admission by them that their candidate was just not good enough to win broad based appeal from the voting public. After all, it wasn't Nader that said Gore invented the Internet, or that Gore was the inspiration for the book and movie "Love Story". It was Gore himself. Basically, if the Democrats wanted to win, they should have offered up a better candidate. Then people would have been happy to abandon Nader to put a Democrat in the White House.
The second question is really based on two objections in the Florida elections. The first is the small amount of people who claim that the ballot was faulty and they were misled into voting for someone other than Gore. The second is that the voting punch machines were faulty and therefore the punch card readers were not adding the true tally of votes for Gore.
Is the first claim true? Unfortunately, we'll never know. That first group was actually a small amount of voters. There's actually a good chance that some of these voters were the usual people who never knew how the voting ballot worked, and never bothered to educate themselves to learn the process. After all, this system was in place for years and this is the first time they brought it to anyone's attention? And if they were that confused, they could have sought help from the election inspectors, who are there for that purpose. My gut instinct tells me the rest of the people just jumped on the bandwagon hoping that if enough people complained, the election results would be overturned.
As for the punch cards, that was where the real circus took place. Several districts where Gore lost wanted to manually recount the votes. But it's unrealistic to assume that the fragile punch cards would remain in good enough shape, after all of the rough handling they took, to give an accurate and fair recount. Further, it appears pretty shady to ask for recounts only in districts where you lost. Personally, I think that the Florida Republicans have played some dirty tricks in getting ready for this year's Presidential election. And, yes, it should be investigated by the courts. But selective recounts are also a dirty trick which have no place in fair and impartial elections. Therefore, the Supreme Court was right in declaring a stop to the recounts.
If you want to blame anyone for the disaster in Florida, blame some of the media as well as some of the voters. In their haste to declare a winner in Florida, some TV networks forgot that the polls in the Florida panhandle are in a different time zone than the rest of the State. They therefore close one hour later. When the polls in the eastern time zone closed, the stations declared Gore the winner. Since the Panhandle is highly Republican, many voters there didn't bother to vote since they thought it was a lost cause. If they did vote, Bush might have won by a very large margin where there would have been no reason to call for a selective recount. And shame on those voters for not voting anyway, since there were still State and local elections to be decided.
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