Think Florida is confusing? Try voting from Russia

My husband and I are currently in Russia working on the Medical Assistance to Russian Orphans project. When we realized that we would have to stay in Moscow longer than anticipated, we went to the US embassy one month prior to election day and filled out our absentee ballot requests. We were assured that our ballot would arrive in time for our vote to be counted. When we did not receive our ballot by Oct. 31, we went again and were given an absentee ballot and voted.

My husband's absentee ballot arrived on Nov. 9. Mine never arrived. How many Americans lost one of their fundamental rights as citizens due to bureaucratic indifference?

Galina S. Pendill Royal Oak, Md.

Establishing correct precedents for the enfranchisement of all voters is more important for our democracy than which day the next president will be inaugurated. I thank Al Gore for his vigilance.

William Saffran New York

With all that we have heard of voter fraud in Wisconsin, there should be a recount here! There were many reported instances of multiple voting of college students and bus loads of inner-city people allowed to vote early because Jesse Jackson was here "to energize" the vote. There should be voter reform, meaning more strict controls on voting once and proving who you are when you vote. This is a privilege we need to protect and guard if some are going to stuff the ballot boxes.

Marjorie Johnson Colgate, Wis.

The 43rd president will likely end up leading the country into a recession, and be a "one termer" with a weak legacy.

Al Gore's best strategy may be to let George W. Bush have Florida, then lay low for four years. When the 2004 campaign starts, he'll have a great story about how an unjustly elected president has destroyed our prosperity. By that time, the economy probably will be ready for another upward cycle, which will win him a second term in 2008.

Jon Buchwald San Rafael, Calif.

Vietnam - an ongoing healing process

Your eloquent article "The Veterans who went back" (Nov. I7) was very helpful.

I never went to Vietnam but, rather, was in the streets protesting the war. I have always felt that I was right in my actions, but I felt a need to mend the fence with those who decided otherwise. I will never feel the emotions of those who spent time in Vietnam, nor will I know the courage it must take to go back.

For those who fought to end the war, I hope your article helps heal the wounds that they have carried in their hearts, too.

Richard Hawley Cambria, Calif.

US policy in the Mideast

Your Nov. 16 article "Mideast clashes shift into test of endurance" reports that Yasser Arafat has tried to persuade the US to back an international force to "protect" Palestinians. According to your article, "President Clinton has said the US cannot support the measure without Israel's acceptance."

The West Bank and Gaza are still occupied by a foreign nation that has illegally allowed/encouraged its own citizens to settle there. It is a clear responsibility of the United Nations to protect people who are now suffering unbelievable violence on every front.

It is painful indeed to find our leadership unable to act "without Israel's approval" in a situation where morality and acknowledgement of basic human rights require UN protection of a beleaguered population.

Hannah Schuller Cambridge, Mass.

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