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High price tag sinks same-day registration bill

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MADISON -- A push by some Wisconsin Republicans to do away with same-day voter registration appears dead after Gov. Scott Walker now says he would not sign a bill because of the high cost to taxpayers. This, after the Government Accountability Board issued a report Tuesday, December 11th saying it would cost at least $5 million initially if same-day voter registration were eliminated.

"There's no way I'm signing a bill that's going to cost that kind of money," Gov. Walker said.

The report dated Friday, December 7th says in addition to the one-time cost tied to a law change, there would be an additional $1.9 million expense every two years associated with implementing two federal laws that would take effect if same-day registration goes away.

"It will cost the state a lot of money, millions every year, and we should be talking about how we should improve job training and tax credits for small business," Rep. Jon Richards  (D - Milwaukee) said.

"In light of those numbers, it's pretty clear not only would I not sign it with that dollar amount, but I don't think the the Legislature even comes close to passing it. There's no way people want to spend that kind of money for something like that," Gov. Walker said.

Wisconsin is currently exempt from the National Voter Registration and Help America Vote acts because it allows same-day registration. 

Wisconsin is one of just 10 states that allows same-day voter registration. 

In a speech at the Ronald Reagan Library in California back in November, Gov. Walker said he supported efforts to end same-day voter registration. 

"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.

The law has been credited with giving Wisconsin one of the highest voter turnout percentages in the country. In the November elections, more than 70% of registered voters cast ballots.

Wisconsin Democrats were furious over the idea of repealing the law, calling it an attack on voters' rights.

"What's troubling is the first bill we've seen so far circulating is this bill to end same-day registration that will cost the state $5 million in the first year just for one agency and more than $1 million every year after that -- all to make it harder to vote. It's not what we should be talking about," Rep. Richards said.

One thing both Democrats and Republicans can agree on is the voter registration issue is a distraction, and the real focus of the Legislature should be job creation.

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