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UNDECIDEDS, AT LAST, FINALLY HAVE TO DECIDE

Today's the day. We've waited for it, wondered about it, and it's finally here.

It's the time when, at last, the undecideds have to decide.

The undecideds -- what a fascinating species they are. For months, they've been fussed over, pleaded with, wheedled at and wooed.

And they've given every kind of excuse for their waffling. Sometimes it's the candidates' fault.

"It's a lot of trash and baloney. I haven't seen any plans or ideas. I'm disheartened about the whole situation," one South Buffalo no-know said to Buffalo News reporter Charity Vogel.

They say they need more information.

"I'm still undecided. I'm still reading up," another undecided said in a recent News article.

There are the usual gripes: "The rich get all the tax breaks."

And classic Buffalo negativity: "Who cares who's in office? I'll always pay my taxes." (These are quotes from the pages of The News, but who hasn't heard them on bar stools and at bus stops, too?)

And here's a new one: The news just isn't entertaining enough. Anthony Violanti, who covers media for The News, got an earful from the editor of St. Bonaventure University's student newspaper. Kvetched the kid: "The people in charge of the media are not reaching out to our generation as much as they should."

Poor baby.

Why not be honest and say: "I haven't really had the time to keep up with things"?

Western New York has, admittedly, a naturally sleepy attitude. Odds are the state's going to the Democrats, so potential voters sometimes feel they have the luxury of sitting things out.

Still, the idea that voters have not been able to make up their minds about this election has been baffling.

"I know who they are," cracks Kevin Hardwick, a professor of political science at Canisius College. "They're the people I always stand behind at McDonald's who can't decide what they want to eat."

Marion Deutschman of the League of Women Voters also shakes her head over the situation.

"I can't imagine how anyone is undecided, because you do have two candidates polarized on many issues," she says.

Deutschman suggests, though, that the hoopla of the last six months could have thrown even intelligent people into confusion.

"The quality of information they have been getting has been either an outright lie or an exaggeration or simply an attack," she says.

But Hardwick brings up another possibility: Maybe the undecideds aren't all that undecided.

"After all the information we've been bombarded with, I tend to think they're not totally undecided," Hardwick says. "It's like in a restaurant. I know what I want to eat, but I want to see the menu, anyway. They probably have a good idea who they want. The question is, will something come up in the meantime to change their minds?"

Undecideds, the day of reckoning is decidedly here. Cast the I Ching, shake up the Magic 8-Ball, call Lily Dale, do what you have to do. It's time to take a deep breath and vote.

And when you're through, get busy serving coffee and comfort food to the decideds. Because of you, we've all been through a heck of a lot.

e-mail: mkunz@buffnews.com

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