Good evening. Tonight, Secretary Cheney and I thank the many thousands of Americans who have written or called or e-mailed to offer prayers and encouragement as we all await the outcome of the election.
I'm sure that Vice President Gore and Senator Lieberman are receiving similar good wishes, and would want to join us in thanking our fellow Americans for their caring and concern.
No matter who you voted for in this election, whether you supported Vice President Gore or whether you supported me, all Americans want a fair and accurate count of the votes in Florida, a fair and accurate count that measures up to the highest standards and principles outlined in our Constitution and our laws.
As we work to conclude this election, we should be guided by three principles: This process must be fair, this process must be accurate, and this process must be final.
First, the election must be fair: fair to voters throughout America, fair to voters in Florida, and fair to voters in different counties in Florida. I honor and respect the value of every single vote. That's why my campaign supported the automatic recount of all the votes in Florida.
Everyone in Florida has had his or her vote counted once. Those votes have been recounted. In some counties they have been counted a third and even fourth time.
And that brings us to the second principle: accuracy. This process must be accurate. As Americans have watched on television, they have seen for themselves that manual counting, with individuals making subjective decisions about voter intent, introduces human error and politics into the vote-counting process.
Each time these voting cards are handled the potential for errors multiplies. Additional manual counts of votes that have been counted and recounted will make the process less accurate, not more so.
Third, not for the Vice President Gore, or for me, but for America, this process must have a point of conclusion, a moment when America and the world know who is the next president.
This is precisely why the laws of the state of Florida have deadlines for certification of the election vote. One of them came last night, and tonight, Florida's chief election official and the state's election canvassing commission have reaffirmed it as their responsibilities require.
The next and final deadline comes Friday at midnight, when overseas absentee ballots must have been received to be counted in Florida. I don't know who these ballots will support and neither does Vice President Gore.
The votes of Florida have been counted. They have been recounted and tonight they have been certified and we do not know yet who has won.
The way to conclude this election in a fair and accurate and final way is for the state of Florida to count the remaining overses ballots, add them to the certified vote, and announce the results as required by Florida law.
I was encouraged tonight that Vice President Gore called for a conclusion to this process. We all agree.
Unfortunately, what the vice president proposed is exactly what he's been proposing all along: continuing with selective hand recounts that are neither fair nor accurate, or compounding the error by extending a flawed process statewide.
This means every vote in Florida would be evaluated differently, by different individuals using different judgment, and perhaps different local standards, or perhaps no standards at all.
This would be neither fair nor accurate; it would be arbitrary and chaotic.
At this unique moment in our nation's history, all of us have responsibilities. We have a responsibility to conduct ourselves with dignity and honor. We have a responsibility to make sure that those who speak for us do not poison our politics. And we have a responsibility to respect the law and not seek to undermine it when we do not like its outcome.
The outcome of this election will not be the result of deals or efforts to mold public opinion. The outcome of this election will be determined by the votes and by the law.
Once this election is over, I would be glad to meet with Vice President Gore, and I join him in pledging that regardless of who wins after this weekend's final count, we will work together to unite our great country.
Thank you and God bless America.
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