I am a lifelong Democrat, but I can not justify a vote in November for Eleanor Homes Norton, my party's nominee for delegate to Congress.

Her disdain for the law in evading tax payments for seven years should be offensive to every law-abiding D.C. resident. Apart from her flagrant flouting of law, she has shown an indifference to the District. She did not vote in four of 10 elections.

Early in the campaign she asserted that if elected she would persuade the House to give her a vote on the floor. This is shocking evidence of her ignorance of our home rule status -- and she is a law professor! Her arrogant persistence in refusing to withdraw is an affront to us all, and we should not be shamed by sending a scofflaw to Congress.

EVA J. DENEV Washington

Most of the discussion concerning Mrs. Norton's tax returns has revolved around the question of whether Mrs. Norton knew that her returns had not been filed. Seven years does boggle the mind, but I believe Mrs. Norton did not know. Had she known, she would certainly have been intelligent enough to know that something had to be done about it before declaring her candidacy.

The questions that have not been adequately addressed are: Why didn't she know, and can she be excused for not knowing it? Every time Mrs. Norton tries to explain herself, she begs the question. Wasn't it her business to verify that her taxes had in fact been filed and paid? Doesn't she know that a signature on a tax return signifies "under penalties of law" or "penalty of perjury" that one has examined the return and believes it to be "true, correct and complete"? (This applies even if someone else is the preparer!) Isn't it her business to know, as it is mine, that a federal income tax extension is granted for four months, not six? (Should she really have had to learn this from a newspaper?) And just where does the buck stop in this matter, anyway?

I'm sure we would all like to put our tax returns in someone else's box (or under our pillow for the tooth fairy). Preparing tax returns has become one of the most arduous things I ever have to do, but it is demanded of me as a citizen. Can we expect less of would-be public officials?

It hardly suffices to say that the voters have spoken and that all good Democrats must now rally 'round the flag bearer. Had the full particulars -- including the magnitude of the taxes owed and the late filing of her federal return -- been known, the outcome of the primary might well have been different. Would it not rather be in the best interests of the Democratic Party and of the District for Mrs. Norton to withdraw from the race?