It was with a sense of outrage, tinged with irony, that I read Richard Harwood's article "Do We Really Have to Vote?" {Outlook, Oct. 28}. I was outraged that an individual accepting pay as the ombudsman for the major newspaper in our area is so little concerned with local issues that he questions his obligation to inform himself and vote. And I was outraged that as an arbiter for fairness in one of our principal news organizations, Mr. Harwood concludes that the great nonvoting unwashed in our society really prefer that other people make decisions about how we are to be governed.

The drop in voter participation has come about because people feel disenfranchised, both politically and economically.

Politically, we feel disenfranchised because the political action committees and the many pseudo-PACs representing special interests and one-issue constituencies have purchased the attention and votes of many of our elected representatives. Second, the reliance on "scientific polling" mostly by news organizations and the new fast-growing industry of "political gurus" has changed our elected representatives -- members of Congress and the president. They are no longer informed public representatives but merely poll-reading, campaign-fund-raising professionals. We will not stem the tide of voter apathy until we control campaign financing and the link between public opinion polls and the news media, which profit from them.

Economically and politically, we are sitting on a time bomb as the number of people without any stake in our political and economic system grows.

Except for a few oases of intelligence, television is losing the battle to question and to instruct, as well as to entertain. It was with a great sense of disappointment that I read Mr. Harwood's article and concluded that the newspapers too are content to say, "That's just the way it is; we can't expect to do better." And need I add, "Don't worry; be happy!"

HARRY LAMAR Kensington