'I fear Bush will win, and I'll have no right to complain. I'm just lazy'

The Non-Voters
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The Independent US

Lori Heddinger had the perfect alibi for being late to work at her Midtown Manhattan wireless communications firm. She had to vote. Except the truth is that Ms Heddinger overslept yesterday - again - and missed her train. She didn't vote in the morning, nor was she going to in the evening.

Lori Heddinger had the perfect alibi for being late to work at her Midtown Manhattan wireless communications firm. She had to vote. Except the truth is that Ms Heddinger overslept yesterday - again - and missed her train. She didn't vote in the morning, nor was she going to in the evening.

"I have no excuse at all," she admitted, flushing a little with embarrassment in her grey business suit and designer scarf. "I fear that Bush will win and if that happens I will have no right to complain. None whatsoever. But, well, I guess it's just because I'm a lazy bitch."

But Ms Heddinger was in good company. While the pundits struggled to predict who would be declaring victory, there was one thing they could be sure of - that maybe as many as half the 200 million people in America who are eligible to vote won't have bothered.

And this despite an unprecedented get-out-the-vote effort by the parties and by special interest groups.

Laziness may be the most predominant reason, which in this election might have been compounded by a widespread disenchantment with the two main candidates who were running. Neither emerged as a compelling hero of this election drama. Other reasons for staying away from the ballot machines included ignorance about the system and absence of time. People were too busy.

Like Rose Del, originally from Colombia, who rushes every morning from her Bronx home to La Guardia airport where she works keeping the pavements clean of cigarette butts at the main terminal. She is the Democratic Party's nightmare. Like many in the immigrant communities, she likes the Democrats, and therefore Al Gore. But still she doesn't vote.

"I have too many things on my mind," Ms Del explained, working her pan and brush outside the baggage reclaim. "I have three grandchildren and this job and, you know, no time."

The Republicans can despair equally of Mohammed Said, who came to the US from Egypt six years ago and became a US citizen last year. He loves George Bush, because he loved his father. But he didn't vote. He had hoped to find someone to look after his hot-dog stand on the corner of Madison and 49th St in Midtown so he could go to the polling station, but no one could do it. "I have to stay with my trolley,"he said with a shrug of his shoulders.

Steve Hum is also busy dashing about with packages for the courier company Airborne Express. He said he wanted to vote but was unable to because nobody explained that he had to register. Citizens had until about two weeks ago to fill in the form at a post office or courthouse. "They should teach you in school exactly what is going on, how to do it," Mr Hum complained, with apparent irritation.

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