Three Wisconsin advocacy groups collected almost 15,000 signatures in objection to Gov. Scott Walker’s comments about ending same-day voter registration.
Walker recently made a one-hour speech in California outlining his achievements and policy proposals for next year. During the speech, he said he supports ending same-day voter registration, leading to the responses Thursday from We Are Wisconsin, One Wisconsin Now and United Wisconsin.
Fiona Cahill from We Are Wisconsin said eliminating same-day registration would impact students greatly since they move more often than others. With students having to update their registrations if they move, Cahill said keeping same-day registration is crucial for them.
“A lot of us move every year, sometimes more,” Cahill said. “As a senior, I’ve moved five times and six in January since I first started voting.”
Cahill said Marquette University, a campus with about 11,000 students, saw about 2,000 students registering on Election Day.
At his speech earlier this month, Walker said the states that do same-day registration often see many people registering on Election Day rather than doing it before.
The number of people who end up registering at the polls causes much more work for election workers who are already doing enough, he said.
“It’s difficult for [the poll workers] to handle the kind of volume of folks who come at the last minute,” Walker said. “It’d be much easier if registration as done in advance of Election Day. It’d be easier for our clerks to handle all that.”
Walker’s spokesperson did not respond to a request for comments, but the governor has said this is not a priority for him, and he is more focused on other issues like job creation.
While this issue came up during the passage of the voter ID law last year, it did not get much support.
Democrats in general oppose eliminating same-day registration, but some Republicans do as well because of additional federal regulations it would bring. Others, including the new Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, support removing same-day registration.
The Wisconsin Municipal Clerks Association has pushed back against Walker’s comments. Diane Hermann-Brown, the Sun Prairie city clerk, said taking same-day voting away would be “fixing something that’s not broken.”
Hermann-Brown said it would cost more to have voters register in her office rather than doing it at the polls, as her office staff is paid more than the poll workers.
She said her office had about 2,000 voters register at the polls this cycle, and while some of those might register outside of her office, she said she does not know whether her staff could handle the rest of those voters coming into her office prior to the elections.
She added the state’s Government Accountability Board is currently working on a report outlining the impacts of eliminating same-day voter registration, including the fiscal implications.