TRENTON - It is increasingly likely that New Jerseyans will vote without a paper backup in November's general election.
The state will miss a June deadline to retrofit thousands of electronic voting machines with paper printers, the attorney general announced yesterday.
The Legislature reluctantly gave the Attorney General's Office until June to test and certify printers for more than 10,000 paperless voting machines.
Attorney General Anne Milgram blamed unanticipated delays in testing the machines for the state's failure to meet the deadline.
"We're as frustrated as anyone," Milgram said yesterday. She said that putting off the requirement another six months is "the most responsible course of action under the circumstances and one that will provide the state with adequate time to ensure that only the most reliable technology is certified."
Legislation changing the deadline for voter-verified paper records to Jan. 1, 2009, has been introduced in the Assembly. Milgram said the November presidential election would be thrown into chaos if the state attempted to return to paper balloting.
"There are real voter integrity issues when you go down that road," she said, "huge security issues, massive training issues."
The attorney general oversees elections. As of April 1, election oversight will be handled by the secretary of state.
The printers would allow voters to see a paper record of their vote selections.
Lawmakers wanted the backup technology in place before the Feb. 5 presidential primary, but Milgram refused to certify the printers after tests found paper jams and other problems.