Jeb Bush Insures Fair, Honest Florida Recount; Withdraws from Recount Board

By Bob Melvin | July 7, 2008 | 8:27 PM EDT

( - Florida Governor Jeb Bush, at a late Wednesday afternoon press conference in Tallahassee, insured the American people that his state's presidential vote recount will be fair and honest. To further insure that process, Bush, the younger brother of Republican candidate George W Bush, withdrew from the three-person board permitted by law to oversee and certify the final vote recount.

Everything for Bush and Vice President Al Gore is riding on the vote outcome in the Sunshine State. Whoever wins the recount vote, expected to be finalized late Thursday afternoon, will become the 43rd President of the United States.

"Because of the closeness of the presidential election results here in our state, an automatic recount, as provided by law, of Florida's ballots are currently underway," Bush said.

"From the beginning, I've always said Florida would be a hard-fought state ... Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine it would be this close," he said.

George W Bush currently leads in the Florida balloting by a slim 1,754 votes with an estimate 3,000 absentee ballots still outstanding. Those votes may not be tallied in total for another ten days.

Florida Governor Bush emphasized that the recount will be professional, fair and honest.

"I have the greatest confidence in the independently elected, bipartisan group of County Supervisors of Elections that exist all across our state as well as our independently-elected Secretary of State. These public servants will perform the mandatory recount with the utmost diligence and professionalism," he said.

"I, along with Attorney General (Bob) Butterworth, are firmly committed to protecting the integrity of Florida's election process," Bush said, "and will seek swift enforcement of Florida's election laws.

"Voter fraud in our state is a felony, and guilty parties will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Both of us have pledged to work together with Secretary of State Katherine Harris in this regard.

"Furthermore, to insure that there is not the slightest appearance of a conflict of interest, I have chosen to recuse myself from serving on the election's Canvassing Commission. Under Florida law, this commission is the ultimate certifier of election results," Bush said.

"Florida law requires that my replacement on the commission be appointed by the director of the Division of Elections in the Department of State.

"The stakes are high, and the circumstances demand responsibility..."

Bush concluded by saying, "I'm very proud of what my brother did. He ran a tough campaign. I believe he will be elected, but the rule of law will determine that in our state."

Also in question are about 3,400 votes cast in Palm Beach County where voters were somewhat confused by the ballot form and may have unintentionally cast their vote for Pat Buchanan when they meant to cast their vote for Al Gore.

Nevertheless, the Palm Beach County ballot appeared pretty clear and straightforward. Arrows clearly indicated where a voter should press his electronic vote for a particular party ticket. However, the Florida County Supervisors of Elections also plan to investigate what happened to those votes in Palm Beach County and determine what, if anything, to do with them.