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Wisconsin GOP Has No Reason To End Same-Day Voter Registration

December 12, 2012

It sickens me to have the electoral process dealt with like it is cheap suit that can be altered and trimmed any old way to make it fit the purpose of the moment.  But that is what is happening with Republican efforts to end same-day voter registration in Wisconsin.

There is no justification that can be created to make a sound rationale for ending what is a most popular, and highly used mechanism to allow for citizens to cast a ballot.

On Tuesday it became even more clear that there are, in fact, more reasons not to tamper with same-day registration.  The Government Accountability Board made it quite clear in a report that should end, once and for all, the continuing cry from some within the GOP that such a policy change is needed.

If the Republicans had their way, and ended same-day registration the state would pay more than $5.2 million for the political game.  While Governor Walker claimed his reason to make the change was to reduce the work load on clerks and those who administer elections the report shows this change would make the job harder.  It should be noted that clerks and election officials are not clamoring for the change.

What continues to frustrate me is the perverse joy that legislators such as Rep. Joel Kleefisch, and Sen. Alberta Darling take over limiting the rights of people to cast a ballot in Wisconsin.  They are working on legislation that would negatively impact our elections, and do so for purely partisan reasons.

Between 100,000 and 450,000 Wisconsinites register at the polls each general  election, or between 7 percent and 20 percent of all voters.  Those numbers come from the Government Accountability Board.  The fact is that people care about voting, want to participate, and show up to fulfill their responsibility on Election Day.  That should make us proud, but seems to give Republicans the shivers.

Consider the hotly contested recall election for Walker this past June when 266,974 voters registered the same day, or 10.6  percent of everyone who voted.   There would be something seriously wrong, and perverse with changing the registration process which clearly a large percentage of the electorate uses in order to cast a ballot.

I really do laugh when I hear these same Republicans scorn the idea of more state spending, but are not concerned with needless spending when it comes to partisan games with elections.

The accountability board estimated in its report that ending election-day registration would cost the state $5.2 million for the first two years – for increased costs to maintain voter lists, computer system upgrades, an ad campaign and voter outreach, and for training and adding staff.

Some of those costs would be recurring. The figures do not include the costs to other state agencies that would have to offer voter registration forms to the public and forward any returned forms to election officials.

Wisconsin voters can not, and must not lose this battle that seems to be coming to the floor of the legislature in the coming weeks.  When partisans want to tamper with the underpinnings of our democracy it is time that every citizen become engaged in the process of fighting back.

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