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Riley asks judge for more time
State misses deadline to implement computerized voter registration

By Phillip Rawls
Associated Press Writer

MONTGOMERY — Gov. Bob Riley, who missed a court-ordered deadline for developing a statewide computerized voter registration system, has asked a federal judge to give him two more months to finish the work.

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Keith Watkins told the U.S. Department of Justice to respond to Riley's request for more time by Sept. 12.

"We're aware of the situation and evaluating our options," Justice Department spokesman Erik Ablin said Thursday.

The Justice Department, which sued Democratic Secretary of State Nancy Worley last year for being tardy on completing the project, filed no objections last month when Riley notified the court that it appeared he would be late.

In a report to the federal court Tuesday, Riley said he "is confident" full compliance will be achieved on or before Oct. 31. The biggest holdup is implementing computer technology to check voters' Social Security numbers through the state Department of Public Safety, the governor reported.

The federal Help American Vote Act mandated that each state develop a computerized statewide voter registration system and provided money for equipment. In Alabama, the job fell to the secretary of state.

Worley missed the Jan. 1, 2006, deadline for finishing the job and got sued by the U.S. Justice Department in May 2006.

In August 2006, Watkins took the responsibility away from the Democratic secretary of state and gave it to the Republican governor. The judge gave Riley a deadline of Aug. 31, 2007.

Riley notified the judge in August that the state would be substantially compliant by the deadline, but not fully compliant. On the deadline, Riley sought a two-month extension until Oct. 31 and said the delay would not harm any election.

Jim Spearman, executive director of the Alabama Democratic Party, said Thursday it was hypocritical for Riley to have criticized Worley and then be tardy himself.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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