District election officials say they do not know how many of the 15,000 people who requested absentee ballots had voted ["Long Lines Predicted at Polls Today," Metro, Nov. 2].

It is even more important to know how many of those 15,000 requests were honored: I myself know of three people who never received their absentee ballots.

GWEN VERHOFF

Washington

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I was in awe of the voters yesterday. Many took off from work, and many voted between errands. They might usually have felt that they were too busy to vote, but apparently they felt a great deal depended on this election. After months of campaign ads and slogans, Americans were weary of hype and ready to make a decision.

Last night on my way home I saw people still standing in long lines, patiently awaiting their turn to vote. I saw lots of people who had good reason to stay away, but they were voting anyway -- the elderly, mothers with wailing children, businessmen and soldiers in uniform.

I am proud not only of my choice for president but of this system that allows us a choice. I am also proud of the candidates who spent so many long days to reach this point. I am proudest, however, of my fellow citizens, who showed that we are a united people and that we can and will work together for a better future.

JIM RODGERS

Killeen, Tex.

The long lines at the polls represent a form of constructive disenfranchisement, particularly in Virginia. The lines could be alleviated expensively, with more voting machines, or, simply -- by allowing absentee or early voting at will, rather than for only a few reasons, as the rules currently stipulate.

The more fundamental issue is the post-2000 "reform" of the process. In the rush to preserve voting rights for individuals who used traditional ballot forms incorrectly, we have mandated expensive new machines (which have yet to prove superior in practice), multiplied the role of provisional ballots and made time costs far higher than before for most voters.

Should I thank the election lawyers for the results of their intimidation?

R.L. PROMBOIN

Vienna

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Election Day should be a national holiday so that everyone has a chance to vote. I'm afraid that the long lines I saw yesterday deterred many voters who had to get to jobs, school, etc. Making Election Day a holiday also would prevent the mad morning and evening rushes to the polls, because voters could go throughout the day.

KIM KAVANAGH

Fairfax

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I spotted a potential problem at my polling place in Alexandria yesterday. After checking in, voters were given blue cards and asked to wait in another line. These cards were not stamped with the time or date and could have been duplicated on a home computer.

Because the lines for checking in and for blue-card holders snaked out the door, anyone with a fake blue card could have joined the line and voted multiple times.

I realize that the number of ballots cast is checked against the number of people who checked in, but if more votes were recorded than voters checked in, how would the discrepancy be resolved?

DEBBY ROSS

Alexandria

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I was not surprised to read about Florida's missing absentee ballots ["Tallying the Vote," Oct. 28]. I submitted an application for my 88-year-old mother on Oct. 7, and after repeated phone calls and e-mails, she received a ballot from Palm Beach County on Election Day. According to the Federal Voting Assistance Program, the request needed to be submitted 30 days before Nov. 2. But nowhere on the Palm Beach County election Web site is a 30-day window mentioned.

I subsequently called the county's elections supervisor and was told that there is no deadline for requesting an absentee ballot. Nevertheless, I was warned that getting a ballot to my mother in Boston might be a problem.

This is not the way voting should work in a developed country that calls itself a democracy.

JUDITH BRODIE

Washington