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DECISION 2000 / AMERICA WAITS

Bush: 'Process Must Be Fair . . . Final'

November 16, 2000

Excerpts of remarks Wednesday by Gov. George W. Bush about Florida's vote recount, as transcribed by eMediaMillWorks Inc.:

No matter who you voted for in this election, whether you supported Vice President [Al] 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. . . . 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.

Third, not for 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 way to conclude this election in a fair and accurate and final way is for the state of Florida to count the remaining overseas 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. . . . 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.

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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