An American citizen's vote is his own business, but a newspaper reader is entitled to know about facts that may have a bearing on a columnist's conflicts of interest.

For this reason, the record should show that it is my present intention to vote for Ronald Reagan because I think it is in my pocketbook interest to do so. The money I have saved during the past 45 years is invested in the stock market, and I think Wall Street will interpret Reagan's election as a positive signal.

Wall Street has been consistently wrong in its GOP bias over the years, but that's Wall Street's problem. My task is to protect the money that is supposed to feed me in my old age.

Although I think I'm going to vote for Reagan, I reserve the right to change my mind because a good case can also be made for Carter. Despite brother Billy's involvement with a foreign government and his admitted acceptance of a large sum of money from it, and despite the (unproved) charge that Jimmy has dragged his feet in the investigation of his brother's activities, some good things can be said for the president.

Every newcomer to the Oval Office is inept until he acquires on-the-job training. Carter has already served his apprenticeship and made his mistakes, whereas Reagan would just be beginning his.

Jack Anderson's charge that Carter would launch a pre-election military adventure was, for many voters, the final "proof" of Carter's perfidy, despite Carter's denial and the absence of subsequent military action. And when the Iranians began their obvious attempt to influence the outcome of our election, Carter gave us repeated low-key warnings against unwarranted optimism.

Carter's position on Salt II suits me better than Reagan's does. I am also more comfortable with Carter's support for ERA, and for his generally liberal views on human values.

In my opinion, Carter's handling of the economy was not as bad as the Carter-haters would have you believe. But neither was it good. He failed to anticipate changing conditions, and at times he was slow to recognize changes that had already occurred.

The economic medicines prescibed by Carter often appeared to be of insufficient potency, but the responsibility for that must be shared by Congress.

Carter had been elected on a promise of government economy that would permit tax reform. The wage-earnner, the business community and the investor had all been promised tax relief. And all had been disappointed. t

Manufacturers faced with enormous losses couldn't find investment capital with which to modernize. Yet Carter remained cautious and moved so slowly he appeared indecisive.

Our country is now in obvious need of more forceful leadership than Carter gave it during his first term. The key questions that voters must answer for themselves are: Would Carter do better during a second term, when he would be free of the need to make politically safe decisions? Or is it necessary to bring in Reagan to restore confidence and hasten remedial action? n

Many voters find the choice between Carter and Reagan so unattractive they will refuse to vote. I think this is unwise.

If the choice were easy, it wouldn't make much difference whether they voted. The candidate perceived to be clearly superior would undoubtedly win anyhow.

Precisely because the choice is not easy, there is need for full citizen participation. Every vote has now become important.

A handful of votes can make a big difference. And Col. Samuel Pierce Jr. of Galesville, Md., argues that even a single vote has often turned the tide of history. He cites these examples:

"In 1645, one vote gave Oliver Cromwell control of England. In 1649, one vote caused Charles I of England to be executed.

"In 1776, one vote gave America the English language instead of German.In 1868, one vote saved President Andrew Johnson from impeachment. In 1876, one vote gave Rutherford B. Hayes the presidency.

"In 1875, one vote changed France from a monarchy to a republic. In 1923, one vote gave Adolf Hitler leadership of the Nazi party."

I have a question for those who do not intend to vote today: Don't you care who represents you in Congress or in local offices, and don't you care about local issues?

Please change your mind and vote.