The Post is right that it would be a disaster for our democracy for elections to be routinely decided in court instead of the voting booth [editorial, Oct. 26]. But asking candidates to waive their right to challenge electoral fraud is no solution. That would only encourage anyone tempted to try to manipulate an election's outcome.

The only solution is to ensure that elections are fair in the first place. It is time for uniform rules for national elections. We need accurate vote counts with easily verified paper trails, public statewide voter databases and unambiguous rules about who may vote and how and where to vote. Not only are these things vital, they are relatively easy to implement. We lack only the political will to do so.

In the meantime, I would rather see a disputed election than a stolen one.

CONRAD CHAFFEE

Arlington

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Lost in the partisan fight over provisional ballots, voter intimidation and challenges, and voter registration forms is a deeper, critical issue: What kind of democracy do we want? Do we encourage voting or discourage it? That discussion is not partisan; it's a question of good or bad democracy.

An Oct. 27 news story cast the battle in Iowa over provisional ballots as a fight between Democrats and Republicans. But the question in Iowa, as elsewhere, should be what we believe as a nation.

Recently, a group of nonpartisan voting rights organizations asked the Iowa attorney general to choose access over restrictions. The National Voting Rights Institute, Demos, the American Civil Liberties Union, the League of Women Voters and the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law argued that the state ought to count ballots that are cast in the right county if not at the right polling place. To his credit, the attorney general researched the issue and ruled in favor of counting every eligible ballot. His decision -- and integrity -- have been challenged.

This is unfair. We ask elected officials to protect all of us, and that protection should apply in all electoral matters. The issue may appear partisan to some, but it shouldn't cloud the fact that the more basic question -- and the one being pursued by many nonpartisan groups -- is fairness.

STUART COMSTOCK-GAY

Executive Director

National Voting Rights Institute

Boston

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The Oct. 14 news story "For Women, a Year to Make History" noted the rising number of women running for office, but women are also likely to make history this year as voters.

Women constitute a larger proportion of the U.S. population, and in recent elections they have voted at a higher rate than men. Census figures show 7.8 million more women than men voted in the 2000 election. This year, most undecided and swing voters are women, and candidates who are serious about getting elected need to pay attention to their concerns.

DEBBIE WALSH

Director

Center for American Women and Politics

Eagleton Institute of Politics

Rutgers University

New Brunswick, N.J.