Local clerks say eliminating same-day voter registration would create more difficulties

2012-11-23T18:40:00Z 2012-12-05T18:43:37Z Local clerks say eliminating same-day voter registration would create more difficultiesDEE J. HALL | Wisconsin State Journal | dhall@madison.com | 608-252-6132 madison.com

Gov. Scott Walker said he was only looking out for beleaguered pollworkers when he suggested during a talk in California earlier this month that Wisconsin should consider getting rid of same-day voter registration.

But the state's municipal clerks — the ones who run elections — are not looking to be relieved of the extra work, said Diane Hermann-Brown, election communications chairwoman for the Wisconsin Municipal Clerks' Association. In fact, eliminating the practice would create a "heavy burden" on municipalities and the state, said Hermann-Brown, who is the city clerk in Sun Prairie.

"There's no way we'd be in favor of that," she said.

If same-day registration were eliminated, the state would no longer be exempt from a whole raft of federal provisions, Hermann-Brown said, including requiring state social-service agencies and driver's license bureaus to register voters.

Clerks also would be required to issue provisional ballots to voters whose registrations could not immediately be verified, she said. Such ballots require extra effort by both clerks and voters before they can be counted. And large numbers of uncounted provisional ballots means election results could be delayed by days, Hermann-Brown said.

Walker said asking pollworkers to also register voters made for too much work, and "it'd be much better if registration was done in advance of Election Day." Spokesman Cullen Werwie has declined to elaborate, saying the governor would evaluate any such bill if one is introduced.

But Madison City Clerk Maribeth Witzel-Behl said the provision "is not really a big hassle."

"It takes about a minute to process such a registration," she said. "Then it's in the system for the next election."

Between 100,000 and 450,000 Wisconsinites register at the polls each general election, or between 7 percent and 20 percent of all voters, according to the Government Accountability Board, the state's election agency. During the June 5 recall election, for example, 266,974 voters registered the same day, or 10.6 percent of everyone who voted. Statewide figures for the Nov. 6 election are not yet available.

The GAB has been studying the fiscal and administrative effects of getting rid of the 36-year-old provision and is expected to discuss the issue Dec. 18, spokesman Reid Magney said,

Wisconsin is among eight states with Election Day registration; two others have passed but not yet implemented it. Wisconsin is known for its high voter turnout, and same-day registration is often cited as a major reason.

Hermann-Brown said it might be useful to look at what the Legislature declared in 1976 when it passed same-day registration: "The vote is the single most critical act in our democratic system of government ... (and) voter registration was not intended to and should not prevent voting."

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(29) Comments

  1. Lynne4300
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    Lynne4300 - November 25, 2012 9:03 pm
    Do any of you ever go back and read the ridiculous junk you write? And you wonder why liberals are NOT the majority in Wisconsin...get a grip.
  2. array1
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    array1 - November 25, 2012 9:11 am
    I did make a plan, and that was to register at the polls. Much more efficient than making multiple trips. I like efficiency.

    Hey and a pat on your back for deciding to not commit voter fraud. I was wondering what kind of people think about doing that sort of thing.
  3. WI_Expat
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    WI_Expat - November 25, 2012 12:35 am

    You registered on Election Day but had all the time in the world to incessantly annoy people on this blog....let me ask, was your same day registration because of stupidity or incompetence or simple inability to plan for an action you clearly made others well aware of your position?

    In my case I had what appeared was active registrations in two states and with early voting and my travels, I could have actually voted in both locations. However, unlike well documented, by video, of OFA paid representatives instructing student voters on how to vote in multiple locations, I did not commit voter fraud.

    But I was intelligent and responsible enough to resister ahead of Election Day unlike your lazy butt.

  4. Shake
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    Shake - November 24, 2012 10:34 pm
    You know who else hated democracy?
  5. array1
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    array1 - November 24, 2012 9:13 pm
    What's wrong with having 19% register on election day? I registered on election day.
  6. BananaSplitz
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    BananaSplitz - November 24, 2012 8:54 pm
    Making sense will do you no good with some trolls, but kudos for trying!
  7. Clyde
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    Clyde - November 24, 2012 8:36 pm
    If the local clerks can't handle the changes then maybe they should seriously think about finding a new vocation.
  8. consRcrazy
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    consRcrazy - November 24, 2012 7:25 pm
    she'd defend Walker if he was steamrolling puppies

    what a pscyho whackjob she is
  9. ginrummy
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    ginrummy - November 24, 2012 5:23 pm
    Suppression! Suppression! Suppression! Ahhhhhhh! Suppression!

    Why did 19% of Milwaukee register same day?

    I'm all for everyone legally entitled to vote getting to vote. It pretty much shows what the Democratic party is made of though when they are concerned that reasonable changes to the existing policies will discourage the poor, lazy, uneducated and entitlement crowd from following new rules.
  10. Schlitizie
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    Schlitizie - November 24, 2012 4:31 pm
    Sorry to burst your bubble, but Wisconsin is far from special.
  11. ynnel1
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    ynnel1 - November 24, 2012 1:56 pm
    Our extreme right-wing criminal governor is out to suppress the vote again. His dirty political tricks go back to his days at Marquette. Impeach the criminal and get him out of this state for good.
  12. Beingbucky
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    Beingbucky - November 24, 2012 10:01 am
    The reason for ending same day registration is because 19% of Milwaukee voters in the last election registered same day. It is sad that winning an election is now more important than democracy (see Mr. Fetzer's excellent letter to editor about WI going To Hades in a hand basket).
  13. array1
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    array1 - November 24, 2012 8:45 am
    The law has been on the books for many decades and the only one to complain is walker.
  14. array1
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    array1 - November 24, 2012 8:43 am
    Lynne would agree that we should get rid of toilets and $h*#T in buckets if walker thought it was a good idea.
  15. Lynne4300
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    Lynne4300 - November 24, 2012 8:29 am
    Get used to it.
  16. Nav
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    Nav - November 24, 2012 8:12 am
    Fair and balanced? Like at Fox news? Get REAL!
  17. Lynne4300
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    Lynne4300 - November 24, 2012 7:32 am
    Voter ID, and no "same day registration" (which doesn't seem to get verified), is the way to go.

    Thanks, Lynn4300XL, for agreeing.
  18. dakref
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    dakref - November 24, 2012 7:16 am
    This will serve as an example of how things are going to go now that the rethugs have complete control.
  19. Lynn4300XL
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    Lynn4300XL - November 24, 2012 7:15 am
    It doesn't matter if someone has to work harder. Eliminating same day registration will make voting more fair and balanced.
  20. tasman
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    tasman - November 24, 2012 5:54 am
    I recall that when the same day registration law was being considered, clerks were bleating that the proposed law would create more difficulties, as they are now. It seems that the winds of change vibrate the vocal cords of the status quo.
  21. noside
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    noside - November 24, 2012 5:39 am
    These clowns are so transparent. They'll lay waste to all that makes Wisconsin special.
  22. witness2012
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    witness2012 - November 23, 2012 10:27 pm
    It does make you wonder what it behind this proposal. It clearly didn't originate with the poll workers or city clerks, since they oppose ending 'same day' registration.

    What possible good reason would there be to end this practice?
  23. array1
    Report Abuse
    array1 - November 23, 2012 10:26 pm
    What are yo trying to say? That it's ok to register any day of the year EXCEPT election day??
  24. Just Sayin
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    Just Sayin - November 23, 2012 9:57 pm
    I found out I needed milk today. Guess I should have bought it last week?
  25. Harvey
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    Harvey - November 23, 2012 9:25 pm
    If the clerks say it will be a problem and it will hurt voter participation - enough said. BTW, people can't register 365 days a year as you insinuate. Suppression of a RIGHT plain and simple
  26. MJS
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    MJS - November 23, 2012 7:30 pm
    Thank you
  27. Liberalsmakesense
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    Liberalsmakesense - November 23, 2012 7:25 pm
    You might have a point if they were registering to get some type of a personal benefit for themselves. The right to vote is enshrined in our Constitution, and in Wisconsin people have had the right to register to vote up until election day. All of a sudden that's a problem? I don't think so!
  28. Nav
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    Nav - November 23, 2012 7:21 pm
    Funny. This law has been on the books for decades and I didnt see anyone complain before? Some people may be busy. Some people may have moved. Some people may be college students from another part of Wisconsin. Some people may have been persuaded to vote a day before. There are lots of reasons why someone may want to register on election day. Its not a crime!

    Besides, what DIFFERENCE does it make if they wait until election day to register. Should you not be proud that they DO register and then vote? The more people who vote the happier we all should be. Right...or do u have a problem with that?
  29. swarley
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    swarley - November 23, 2012 7:05 pm
    There are 365 days a year but people have to wait until election day to register?

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