Thank you for taking the time to listen tonight.
Every four years, there is one day when the people have their say. In many ways, the act of voting and having that vote counted is more important than who wins the majority of the votes that are cast. Because, whoever wins, the victor will know that the American people have spoken with a voice made mighty by the whole of its integrity. On that one day, every four years, the poor as well as the rich, the weak as well as the strong, women and men alike, citizens of every race, creed and color, or whatever infirmity or political temper, are all equal. They are equal, that is, so long as all of their votes are counted.
A vote is not just a piece of paper. A vote is a human voice; a statement of human principle. And we should not let those voices be silenced. Not for today, not for tomorrow, not for as long as the country's laws and democratic institutions let us stand and fight to let those voices count.
If the people do not in the end choose me, so be it; the outcome will have been fair and the people will have spoken. If they choose me, so be it; I commit to bringing this country together. But whatever the outcome, let the people have their say -- and let us listen.
Ignoring votes means ignoring democracy itself. And if we ignore the votes of thousands in Florida in this election, how can you, or any American, have confidence that your vote will not be ignored in a future election?
That is all we have asked
since election day: a complete count of all the votes cast in Florida.
Not recount after
recount, as some have charged -- but a single full and accurate count.
We haven't had that yet. Great efforts have been made to prevent the counting of these votes. Lawsuit after lawsuit has been filed to delay the count and to stop the counting for many precious days between election day and the deadline for having thecount finished. And this would be over long since, except for these efforts to block the process at every turn.
In one county, election officials brought the count to a premature end, in the face of organized intimidation. In a number of counties, votes that had been fairly counted were simply set aside. And many thousands of votes that were cast in Florida on election day have not yet been counted at all -- not once.
There are some who would have us bring this election to the fastest conclusion possible. I have a different view. I believe our Constitution matters more than convenience.
So as provided under Florida law, I have decided to contest this inaccurate and incomplete count -- in order to ensure the greatest possible credibility for the outcome.
I agree with something Governor Bush said last night -- we need to come together as a country to make progress. But how can we best achieve that?
Our country will be stronger, not weaker, if our next President assumes office following a process that most Americans believe is fair.
In all our hands now rests the future of America's faith in our self-government. The American people have shown dignity, restraint, and respect as the process has moved ahead.
This is America. When votes are cast, we count them. We don't arbitrarily set them aside because it's too difficult to count them.
In the end, in one of God's unforeseen paths, this election may point us all to a new common ground.
For its very closeness can serve to remind us that we are one people, with a shared history and a shared destiny.
So this extraordinary moment should summon all of us to become what we profess to be: one indivisible nation.
Let us pledge ourselves to the ideal that the people's will should be heard and heeded.
And then, together, let us find what is best in ourselves, and seek what is best for America.
Two hundred years from now, when future Americans study this Presidential election, let them learn that Americans did everything they could to ensure that all citizens who voted had their votes counted.
Let them learn that democracy was ultimately placed ahead of partisan politics in resolving a contested election. Let them learn that we were indeed a country of laws.
Thank you -- God bless you -- and God bless America.
As I described last night, since election day, we have had a single, fundamental goal: to ensure a complete count of all the votes cast in Florida. Not recount after recount - but a single full and accurate count.
That is a purpose that extends far beyond the borders of Florida. What is done in Florida sends a message as to how we will govern ourselves as Americans.
The American people have shown great patience in these extraordinary days. They understand the importance of getting this election right.
That is why we have asked the Florida courts to recognize what observers of this process know to be true: the State of Florida has certified a vote count that is neither complete nor accurate.
I understand that this process needs to be completed in a way that is expeditious as well as fair. We cannot jeopardize an orderly transition of power - nor need we do so.
Two weeks ago, I proposed to forgo any legal challenge if Governor Bush would let a complete and accurate count go forward. He rejected that proposal, and instead became the first to file lawsuits - and now, two weeks later, thousands of votes still have not been counted.
This morning, we have proposed to the court in Tallahassee a plan to have all the ballots counted in seven days, starting tomorrow morning - and to have the court proceedings completed one or two days after that. Let me repeat the essence of our proposal: seven days, starting tomorrow, for a full and accurate count.
Once we have that full and accurate count of the ballots cast, then we will know who our next President is, and our country can move forward.
Unfortunately, just an hour ago, Governor Bush's lawyers rejected this proposal. Instead, they have proposed two weeks of additional court proceedings and additional hearings - right up to the December 12th deadline for seating electors. And under their plan, none of the thousands of votes that remain to be counted would be counted at all.
I believe this is a time to count every vote - and not to run out the clock.
This is not a time for delay, obstruction, and procedural roadblocks.
As I have said, it is essential to our country that there be no question, no cloud over the head of the next President, whether it be me or Governor Bush. We need to be able to say that there is no legitimate question as to who won this election, so that we can bring this country together.
That is what we seek, and I urge Governor Bush to support our proposal to bring this process to a fair, expeditious, and truly democratic conclusion. Thank you.