Battle brews over same-day voter registration

APPLETON — The debate over same-day voter registration surfaced again in the area Tuesday, even though the governor has backed off the idea.

Government Accountability Board reports so far show a hefty cost to stop same-day voter registration. Its report released in December showed a $5 million initial cost and $1 million a year after that. Without same-day registration, supporters claim registration sites would need to be set up at other agencies.

Around two dozen supporters of same-day voter registration voiced their concerns in Appleton.

"That has been shown to boost the voter turnout,” said Irene Strohbeen of the League of Women Voters of Appleton.

We did a FOX 11 Fact Check. According to the Government Accountability Board, Wisconsin is one of nine states that allow same-day voter registration.

In the 2008 presidential election, 400,000 voters registered on Election Day in Wisconsin.

This past November, Wisconsin had the second highest voter turnout in the country, around 70 percent.
Minnesota was number one.

Other supporters of same-day registration say they'd like to keep it that way.

"Our election officials aren't overburdened and by eliminating it, it would drive up our costs. The study from the state showed that it will cost the state $5 million. Most of that's going to land on municipal budgets,” said Appleton Mayor Tim Hanna.

Hanna said same-day voter registration should not be a partisan issue.

Gov. Scott Walker said in December he'd back off eliminating same-day voter registration because of those costs.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Burlington) didn't directly address the same-day registration issue Tuesday.

He did issue this statement: "I feel that it's important that we protect the integrity of our elections to make sure every vote counts. I have always been a strong supporter of Voter ID. I want to be sure Voter ID and any other necessary election reforms are in place by the next general election."

Protesters today say the legislature's focus needs to change.

"To take time to eliminate same-day voter registration that works very well for this state, just doesn't make sense, should not even be on the agenda. Get to work on other things,” said Strohbeen.

"Hands off our democracy! We need more people working, not less people voting!" said Anita Johnson, a member of Citizen Action of Wisconsin from Milwaukee.

The same groups that met in Appleton Tuesday say they're planning to lobby legislators at the Capitol in Madison on Thursday.

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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