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Text: Florida Secretary of State Declares Bush Winner

Sunday, November 26, 2000

Following is the transcript of the certification of presidential election returns in Florida. Speakers: Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, Florida Election Canvassing Commission Member Bob Crawford, Florida State Elections Director Clay Roberts.


Commissioner Bob Crawford, Director Clay Roberts, ladies and gentlemen, as the state Elections Canvassing Commission, we're here today to certify the results of the election that occurred November 7, 2000.

Because of the great interest in our actions, we are meeting publicly rather than meeting individually, as has been our traditional practice.

Before we proceed, I wish, briefly, to review why we are here tonight. It was and it remains my opinion that the appropriate deadlines for filing certified returns in this election are those mandated by the legislature. And it remains my opinion that the proper returns in this election are the returns that were certified by those deadlines.

The Florida Supreme Court, however, disagrees. The court created a new schedule for filing certifications and conducting election contests rather than implementing the schedule enacted by the legislature, and that is the schedule that we're following tonight.

Prior to certification, there's one matter I wish to discuss concerning the returns. In accordance with the direction of the Supreme Court, my office accepted amended returns until 5 p.m. today, and these amendments are reflected in the statewide canvass returns, copies of which will be available.

Palm Beach County has submitted a document that purports to be an amended return, but contains two different compilations of the presidential vote.

One set of numbers is identified as a partial--one set of numbers is identified as partial manual recount that fails to comply with the provisions of Section 102.166.

The other set of numbers is identified as the machine count required by law in this election, and these numbers are identical to those that were certified by the Palm Beach County canvassing board on November 14.

These latter numbers are the numbers included in the statewide canvass. Copies of the Palm Beach County document are also--will also be made available.


The certified result in the presidential race in Florida is as follows: Governor George W. Bush, 2,912,790; Vice President Al Gore, 2,912,253.


Accordingly, on behalf of the state Elections Canvassing Commission and in accordance with the laws of the state of Florida, I hereby declare Governor George W. Bush the winner of Florida's 25 electoral votes for the president for the United States.

Mr. Crawford, would you like to address the audience?

CRAWFORD: Thank you, Madam Secretary. Let me first commend you on the job that you and your office have done during these last almost three weeks since the election.

This has been a tough election. It has not always been pretty. But we got the job done, and we got it done right. People called me and say--particularly from out of state--and say what's going on down in Florida, and I have to keep reminding people, the only thing that's going on here is that we've got a razor-thin election for the most important job in the world. And that's all it is. After all the jokes, after all of the anguish, we've just got a close election. And any state that had to go through this would've had the same problems, I think, that we have had.

But I think it's over. It should be over. And maybe that's the important word there, "should." You know, Yogi Berra once said, "It's not over till it's over." Well, it's over, and we have a winner, and it's time to move on.

There's one thing that I am sure of and that is both sides have enough legal talent to keep this tied up through Christmas. But one thing the lawyers can't do for us and one thing the courts can't do for us: They can't bring this country together again.

And while we have a winner tonight and we have a loser tonight, it's going to take both of these gentlemen to bring this country together again, and I hope we can get on with that work soon.

And I'm proud of the job that we've done here in the state.

HARRIS: Mr. Roberts?

ROBERTS: Thank you, Madam Secretary.

I would like to thank the 67 supervisors of elections in each county in the state of Florida and their staffs for their dedication and professionalism and fortitude in what will be recognize as the toughest election anybody has ever or will ever face.

Finally, I would like to thank my staff for their devotion to duty and all the support they provided to both myself and the office of the secretary of state.

HARRIS: Thank you.

Finally, I wish to recognize the tireless efforts of all of the elections personnel throughout the state of Florida, and I commend them for a job well done. I also wish to thank the thousands of people throughout the country who have been such an encouragement to me and to my staff through their letters, their faxes, their flowers and their e-mails. And I want to say especially, I thank them for their prayers.

I'm confident that the Department of State has conducted itself with integrity and independence. And I want to thank the employees of the Department of State as well.

Finally, I wish to point out that our American democracy has triumphed once again, and this is a victory in which we can all take a great deal of pride and comfort. The true winner in the election is the rule of law. Thank you and may God bless America.

© 2000 The Washington Post Company

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