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Election news that won't surprise any of you

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. counterterrorism officials are looking at an emergency proposal on the legal steps needed to postpone the November presidential election in case of an attack by al Qaeda, Newsweek reported on Sunday.
Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge warned last week that Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network may attack within the United States to try to disrupt the election.

The magazine cited unnamed sources who told it that the Department of Homeland Security asked the Justice Department last week to review what legal steps would be needed to delay the election if an attack occurred on the day before or the day of the election.

The department was asked to review a letter to Ridge from DeForest Soaries, who is the chairman of the new U.S. Election Assistance Commission, the magazine said.

The commission was created in 2002 to provide funds to the states to the replace punch card voting systems and provide other assistance in conducting federal elections.

In his letter, Soaries pointed out that while New York's Board of Elections suspended primary elections in New York on the day of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, "the federal government has no agency that has the statutory authority to cancel and reschedule a federal election."

Soaries wants Ridge to ask Congress to pass legislation giving the government such power, Newsweek reported in its latest issue that hits the newsstands on Monday.

Homeland Security Department spokesman Brian Rochrkasse told the magazine the agency is reviewing the matter "to determine what steps need to be taken to secure the election."

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