Outcome hangs on vote of the poor and elderly

Recounts
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The Independent US

It is perilous territory, but political scholars in America are beginning to suggest that the outcome of the election may now rest with a small underclass segment of the voting population, principally the very poor and members of ethnic minorities. The elderly will also have a share in the final say.

It is perilous territory, but political scholars in America are beginning to suggest that the outcome of the election may now rest with a small underclass segment of the voting population, principally the very poor and members of ethnic minorities. The elderly will also have a share in the final say.

These are the people most likely to have messed up their ballots on voting day, researchers say. It is those ballots, with partially punched or "pregnant" chads, that are now under additional scrutiny in two Florida counties. And they may swing the election, at last, to either Al Gore or George W Bush.

According to this theory, those most likely to have made mistakes include recent immigrants to Florida, especially Haitian-Americans and others from the Caribbean region. Also turnout was much higher this time among African-Americans, who may have been voting for the first time.

Among those making the argument is Lance de Haven-Smith of the Florida Institute of Government. "A good part of them are at the lowest rung of the economic ladder," he said. "They're the least attached part of the electorate. Lacking experience and familiarity with these kinds of ballots, they would be more likely to make a mistake".

Old people voted in larger numbers in south Florida than in other parts of the country.

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