CARSON CITY - State and local election officials meet Thursday in Las Vegas to work out final details of an alternative to a statewide voter registration system that won't be ready for the start of Nevada's 2006 election cycle.Representatives of Secretary of State Dean Heller's office and various clerks and registrars from around the state will meet in the office of Clark County Registrar Larry Lomax to finalize their "Plan B" solution to a federal mandate on voter registration.A system linking the 17 counties and Heller's office is being developed by Covansys, under a $4.6 million contract. But Heller said Monday it won't be ready by a Jan. 1 deadline.Covansys "just ran out of time" in trying to meet the deadline imposed under the federal Help America Vote Act, Heller said. "So we had to come up with an alternative."The alternative is a "bottom-up" system using existing computer systems to feed voter registration information from county election officials to Heller's office, which will maintain a database that can be checked to guard against any voter registration fraud or other problems."We've been working on this for two months," said Chief Deputy Secretary of State Renee Parker. "We're all on the same page."Lomax said in a letter to Heller that the new system being developed by Covansys isn't reliable or accurate yet, and the "bottom-up" alternative using existing equipment is the best way to go to ensure compliance with the federal act."If the state of Nevada is to be HAVA-compliant in 2006, the clerks believe this is the only realistic option," Lomax added.Lomax also wrote that the clerks are well aware of the incomplete status of the Covansys project because they have "devoted thousands of hours to defining the system's requirements and to testing the software Covansys has subsequently developed."Heller said Nevada was able to meet the HAVA requirements for upgraded voting machines starting in the 2004 election cycle, but the statewide registration system project "just isn't going as smoothly as we had hoped.""It's typical," he said. "It takes twice as much time as you think it will. Usually it costs twice as much too, but we have some really tight contract controls with Covansys."