Advocates of same-day voter registration respond to Gov. Walker’s comments

MADISON — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has indicated he wants to do away with same-day voter registration, saying it places a burden on clerks. Democrats say it’s an attempt to keep voter turnout low in Democratic strongholds.

Both Gov. Walker and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos say the issue of same-day voter registration isn’t a top priority, but both have spoken publicly in support of revealing the same-day voter registration law. The law has been on the books since the bicentennial, in 1976.

Gov. Walker first made comments regarding doing away with same-day voter registration in a speech at the Ronald Reagan Library in California in November. 

“It would be much better if registration were done in advance of the Election Day. It’s difficult for the clerks to handle the volume of folks who come at the last-minute,” Gov. Walker said.

Milwaukee’s Election Commissioner sought to rebut the argument, saying clerks are not clamoring for a change.

“The practice of registering a voter and issuing them a ballot on Election Day has been tightly woven into every municipality’s Election Day procedures and the training of their election workers,” Neil Albrecht said.

Wisconsin is one of 10 states that allows same-day voter registration. The law is credited with producing consistently high voter turnout. In November, over 70% of eligible voters cast ballots on Election Day.

“You have people not just in Wisconsin, but certainly the Governor of Wisconsin who are unhappy with the election results.  I think the people of the state get it.  You don’t change the rules simply because you lost the game,” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said.

At the White House on Tuesday, December 4th, Gov. Walker said he doesn’t plan to push the issue, saying: “My priority is completely on jobs.” 

“I wasn’t born on a turnip truck.  I think if he’s not going to support it, he should say he’s not going to support it, that he’ll veto it.  That’s what he should say,” Mayor Barrett said.

Last week, a coalition of advocacy groups, including One Wisconsin Now and United Wisconsin delivered more than 15,000 petition signatures from people opposing changes to same-day registration. 

Vos has talked about a new system that would require registration to be done at the DMV.

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