Your Oct. 25 editorial "Why Bother Voting?" failed to examine your paper's culpability in the things you deplored. One reason voters do not take non-major-party candidates seriously is the failure of the press to take them seriously.
In 2002 I ran on the Constitution Party ticket against Rep. Tom Davis. Davis refused to debate me, and he told me his strategy was simply to ignore me.
You in the media helped him do just that. I got halfway decent coverage from local and regional newspapers, but only a perfunctory, eve-of-the-election synopsis from The Post. And the first question of every reporter who called me during the campaign was "How much money have you raised?"
If The Post is serious about bringing an end to elections that matter "only at the margins" and stopping the system's "corrosive effect on the very idea of popular sovereignty," it will jettison that opening gambit, rank candidates on the cogency and coherence of their ideas, and make darned sure that all its readers are fully informed about the candidates -- even if their names are not followed by an R or a D.
On Election Day, a voter approached me outside the polling station. She wanted to be reassured that the C after my name did not mean I was a communist. Chalk one up for your paper's approach.
-- Frank Creel
Thanks for the editorial for encouraging people to stay home on Election Day. Why vote? How about because it is my birthright as an American and because people all over the world risk their lives for a chance to cast a ballot.
Just because most Virginia Delegates don't have opponents isn't a reason to punish those committed individuals in contested races at the local level who wish to serve and be a force for change in their communities.
Why vote? Because it still matters.
-- Katherine Annan Mesches
The writer manages Ed Fendley's campaign for the Arlington School Board.
As chair of the Virginia House Democratic Caucus, I agree in part but also strongly dissent from your editorial.
First, The Post correctly criticizes the paltry number of competitive races for the House of Delegates and attributes it to partisan redistricting. The mean-spirited, partisan process is a blemish on the longest continuous democratic form of government in the Northern Hemisphere. It is a disservice to the voters of the commonwealth. I have sponsored and will continue to sponsor legislation to create a bipartisan or nonpartisan redistricting commission.
However, I strongly disagree that this election is devoid of choices, especially in Northern Virginia. In the outer suburbs of Northern Virginia, Democrats are challenging entrenched incumbents in Prince William with Hilda Barg, Earnie Porta and Bruce Roemmelt. In Spotsylvania, we have Chuck Feldbush. In Loudoun County, David Poisson is poised to defeat longtime incumbent Dick Black. In Fairfax, 11 of 14 seats are contested. The only Republicans not facing strong challenges are Vince Callahan, Tom Rust and Tim Hugo. By no coincidence, Callahan is chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. And Rust voted for Gov. Mark Warner's budget reform package. Hugo is the only unchallenged Republican who opposed budget reform with impunity.
Voters would be better served with an editorial that emphasized the positive aspects of these very competitive races and one that actually encouraged voter turnout rather than apathy.
-- Brian J. Moran
The writer represents Alexandria and part of Fairfax County in the House of Delegates.
Your editorial noted that one reason for the lack of viable opposing candidates in most state races is the natural power of incumbency, which discourages most opposition parties from even bothering to place anyone.
Yet The Post consistently has advised area voters to turn down propositions imposing term limits on elected officials (such as the initiatives in Prince George's and Montgomery counties several years ago), saying that they put "arbitrary limits" on who may serve.
Those "arbitrary limits" are precisely what is needed to ensure the vigorous public discourse and voter accountability that you seek.
One need look no farther than the next Maryland Senate race, in which the retirement of Paul Sarbanes promises to give Marylanders strong candidates from both parties for the first time in many years.
-- Trebor Fenstermaker