Gov. Scott Walker recently unveiled his plans for Wisconsin’s future while visiting California. His policy goals include decreasing taxes, boosting the school voucher program and requiring schools, technical colleges and universities to meet certain benchmarks to earn state funding.
Why Walker chose to unveil such crucial plans for the state while in California is beyond me. Maybe he just doesn’t care about Wisconsinites enough to deliver his platform on their future directly to them. Either way, The Wisconsin State Journal reports he made claim in particular that is outright deplorable; he claimed it would be “much better” if Wisconsin did away with same-day voter registration.
Considering these comments are made with a backdrop of the Voter ID law currently going through the states’ courts, one has to wonder how much Walker is really looking out for the rights of voters. Registering to vote the day of an election benefits a myriad Wisconsinites. Students who shift districts from year to year often need to re-register for each election. The same goes for those who have needed to move for a job change.
Walker justified the elimination of same-day voter registration by saying it would make life easier for the clerks, who wouldn’t have to deal with as much registration. Sorry, but on its face, this reason is not enough to justify making the process of voting more difficult for some. And that’s exactly what would happen.
“They can just go in a few weeks early and register,” you say. Except those voting-eligible citizens will already be taking part of a day off of work to go vote on a Tuesday. That puts enough of a burden on voting-eligible Wisconsinites, so why should we make them take part of another day of work off in order to register? Tuesday is a detrimental day for voting turnout as is, so why make the whole process more burdensome?
Heaven forbid clerks have to work hard. I wasn’t aware Walker, based on his track record, wanted to make public employees’ lives easier. If it’s such a problem, then why not hire more clerks? Hey, that would even create jobs!
Furthermore, if Walker has such an interest in doing things in advance, without being rushed and having the proper time to process them, then why didn’t he reprimand state legislators for passing Act 10 in such a rushed manner?
Incoming Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos supports eliminating same-day voter registration as well, but wasn’t aware of anyone who planned to propose it. We can only hope that Walker’s plan for voter registration was simply rhetoric, though that’s unlikely.
Republicans might hold the reins in the executive and legislative branch, but if they want to maintain their power, they ought not try to enact anything like an elimination of same-day voting registration. Such a piece of legislation would affect folks from so many walks of life that Republicans would surely lose votes.
In fact, here’s an idea: Why not let the voters decide and hold a referendum? But I guess it would just make too much sense to let citizens directly make decisions about their civic rights.
Reginald Young ([email protected]) is a senior majoring in legal studies and Scandinavian studies.