updated 4/22/2005 2:11:13 PM ET 2005-04-22T18:11:13

The first chairman of the federal voting agency created after the 2000 election dispute is resigning, saying the government has not shown enough of a commitment to reform.

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DeForest Soaries, a Baptist minister, said Friday that his resignation from the commission created by Congress would take effect next week.

Soaries, 53, cited personal reasons for resigning and said he wants to spend more time with his family in New Jersey — but he added the decision was prompted in part by a lack of support for the commission from Congress and the federal government.

“All four of us had to work without staff, without offices, without resources. I don’t think our sense of personal obligation has been matched by a corresponding sense of commitment to real reform from the federal government,” Soaries told The Associated Press.

Soaries is a Republican who was the White House’s pick to join the Election Assistance Commission, which was created by the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to help states enact voting reforms.

A former secretary of state of New Jersey, Soaries was confirmed to the commission by the Senate in December 2003 and elected the independent agency’s first chairman by his three fellow commissioners. His term as chairman ended in January 2005 and since then he’s stayed on as a commission member.

Soaries and the other commissioners complained from the beginning that the commission was underfunded and neglected by the federal lawmakers who created it.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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