This has been an extraordinary eight days for the American people, and I wanted to speak with you briefly about how I believe we should conclude this election.
The campaign is over, but a test of our democracy is now under way. It is a test we must pass, and it is a test we will pass, with flying colors. All we need is a common agreement that what is at stake here is not who wins and who loses in a contest for the presidency, but how we honor our Constitution and make sure that our democracy works as our founders intended it to work.
This is a time to respect every voter and every vote. This is a time to honor the true will of the people. So our goal must be what is right for America.
There is a simple reason that Florida law and the law in many other states calls for a careful check by real people of the machine results in elections like this one.
The reason? Machines can sometimes misread or fail to detect the way ballots are cast, and when there are serious doubts, checking the machine count with a careful hand count is accepted far and wide as the best way to know the true intentions of the voters.
That is why there have already been partial or complete hand counts not just in two Democratic counties in Florida, but in six Republican counties as well.
We need a resolution that is fair and final. We need to move expeditiously to the most complete and accurate count that is possible. And that is why I propose this evening a way to settle this matter with finality and justice in a period of days, not weeks.
First, we should complete hand counts already begun in Palm Beach County, Dade County and Broward County to determine the true intentions of the voters based on an objective evaluation of their ballots.
Observers and participants from both parties should be present in every counting room, as required under Florida law.
The results of this recount would, of course, be added to the present certified vote total and the overseas absentee vote total. If this happens, I will abide by the result, I will take no legal action to challenge the result, and I will not support any legal action to challenge the result.
I am also prepared, if Governor Bush prefers, to include in this recount all the counties in the entire state of Florida. I would also be willing to abide by that result and agree not to take any legal action to challenge that result. If there are no further interruptions to the process, we believe the count can be completed within seven days of the time it starts.
Now, second, I propose that Governor Bush and I meet personally, one-on-one, as soon as possible, before the vote count is finished, not to negotiate, but to improve the tone of our dialogue n America. We should both call on all of our supporters to respect the outcome of this election, whatever it may be. We should both call on all our supporters to prepare themselves to close ranks as Americans and unite the country behind the winner as soon as this process is completed.
Shortly after the results are known, we should both come together for another meeting, to reaffirm our national unity. If I turn out to be successful, I'll be ready to travel to Governor Bush's home. If I am not, I'll be ready to meet him wherever he wishes.
I would also like to urge all of those speaking for either of us to do their part to lift up this discourse, to refrain from using inflammatory language and to avoid statements that could make it harder for our country to come together once the counting is over. That is the direction I have given to my own campaign.
I don't know what the final results will show, but I do know this is about much more than what happens to me or my opponent; it is about our democracy. My faith is in the people's will, in our Constitution and in our system of self-government.
Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.