Half of States Surveyed to Miss Fair Election Law Deadline

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of Secretaries of State surveyed the states on compliance with the 2002 law that helps or requires states to replace outdated voting equipment, establish statewide voter registration databases, require better voter identification and provide provisional ballots so qualified voters can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 42 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.

The association found that 23 states will be in compliance with the Help America Vote Act, the law that emerged from the disputed 2000 presidential election 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. Only two states said they wouldn't be ready with completed databases in time for the 2006 elections.

All 42 states said they would have the required election equipment for next year's elections.

Congress has provided some $3.9 billion for states to comply with the law. Twenty-three said they would meet the Jan. 1 deadline, in part because they already had a voter database system or the necessary equipment.