Election Day voter registration debate

DE PERE — For Election Day at De Pere's Community Center, city officials planned ahead. That's because St. Norbert College is right around the corner.

“They'll bus them right to the polling place, so they'll have huge influxes of students coming in at once,” said Shana Defnet, De Pere’s city clerk. “They handle it pretty well over there.”

A FOX 11 Fact Check found of the 13,330 people who voted earlier this month in De Pere, 1,897 registered on Election Day. About half of that number, 824, came from the Community Center. The next closest polling place had 371 Election Day registrations.

“They just see more registration because of the college and all of the college students registering to vote,” said Defnet.

While De Pere's college campus played a role in 14% of its voters registering on Election Day, Ashwaubenon had a similar percentage at 11%. However, Ashwaubenon doesn't have a comparable college residency influencing its number.

“More and more people in this state and other states are doing early voting,” said Governor Scott Walker. “It's less and less of a factor.”

Walker says he believes people would register before Election Day if a date were set. Walker says registering on Election Day should be eliminated because it is extra stress for poll workers.

However, Democrats say doing away with same-day registration will depress voter turnout.

“It's a sad day when our leaders are trying to find a way to stop people from voting rather than trying to engage in our democracy,” said Democratic State Sen. Dave Hansen of Green Bay.

Defnet says registering on Election Day is an important duty for poll workers.

“It's taxing, they have to check their proof of registration against their form and they have to make sure they live where they say they live,” said Defnet. “They have to provide proof of residency on Election Day.”

If same-day registration is eliminated, it would likely mean more work for municipal workers. They handle all registration done before Election Day.

Right now, people can register before Election Day through various mail-in forms or going to their municipal office.

Copyright 2014 WLUK TV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

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According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Wisconsin’s population totaled 5,686,986, a 6.0% increase over the 2000 U.S. Census count of 5,363,715. (Source: Wisconsin Blue Book)
 
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