Wed Dec 21, 2005
Nineteen states will miss the Jan. 1 deadline for complying with the federal law ensuring accurate and honest elections, but most should be ready when votes are cast in 2006.
The National Association of Secretaries of State surveyed the states on compliance with the 2002 law that helps or requires states to replace outdated voting equipment, establish statewide voter registration databases, require better voter identification and provide provisional ballots so qualified voters can make their choices.
The association received responses from 43 states and released the results Wednesday. The organization provided only numbers and did not identify the specific states, part of the agreement to ensure that states participated in the survey.
However, during a conference call with reporters, association officials said California and Illinois won't have voter registration databases ready for the elections. Vermont would be in compliance; Washington would miss the Jan. 1 deadline but be ready for voting.
Sam Reed, Washington's secretary of state and the president of the association, said the states that will miss the deadline are working closely with the Justice Department. He added, "I know of no state in the country that the Department of Justice is planning to sue over noncompliance."
The association found that 24 states will be in compliance with the Help America Vote Act, the law that emerged from the disputed 2000 presidential election, which was marked by hanging chads, butterfly ballots and accusations of uncounted votes.
The 19 states that will miss the Jan. 1 deadline cited problems completing the voter registration database or getting voting equipment in place, or both.
Congress has provided some $3.9 billion for states to comply with the law.
Associated Press Writer Rachel La Corte in Olympia, Wash., contributed to this report.
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