Scott Walker criticizes same-day voter registration
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. / Scott Olson/Getty Images
Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker is suggesting that he may move to eliminate same-day voter registration in Wisconsin, a high-turnout state that has allowed citizens to register to vote on Election Day since 1976.
As the Associated Press reported, Walker gave a speech in which he said same-day registration is problematic because volunteer poll workers struggle to handle the same-day registrations.
"States across the country that have same-day registration have real problems because the vast majority of their states have poll workers who are wonderful volunteers, who work 13-hour days and who in most cases are retirees," he said during a speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Foundation in California Friday. "It's difficult for them to handle the volume of people who come at the last minute. It'd be much better if registration was done in advance of Election Day. It'd be easier for our clerks to handle that. All that needs to be done."
The Wisconsin Government Accountability Board does not yet have figures on the number of people who registered to vote on the same day in the 2012 election, since municipalities have a 45-day window to report their figures after Election Day. In 2008, roughly 460,000 people registered on Election Day, amounting to 15.33 percent of the overall electorate. That includes people who were changing their name or address.
The Government Accountability Board told CBS News that it "did not receive reports of unusual problems with Election Day Registration for the November 6, 2012 election."
"There are always lines if polling places are not properly organized, but at this point we cannot attribute the length of lines to the existence of Election Day Registration," said a spokesman, who said the Board is currently studying the fiscal and administrative impact of eliminating same-day registration.
In a statement, Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate said Walker and the GOP "have attempted to erect unnecessary road blocks that impede voter access - especially for students, seniors and minorities - at every turn."
"That's because Republicans learned a long time ago that when more people vote, Democrats win. They've erected barrier after barrier to keep people from participating, and this is just the next step in the process," he added, pointing to GOP-backed efforts to require photo identification at the polls and shorten early voting periods.
Wisconsin is one of eight states that allowed same-day registration in the 2012 election, though two more states plan to implement it. If the state does away with the practice, it will be required by the federal government to institute the so-called "motor-voter" system that allows people to register in conjunction with getting their drivers license. The state would also lose its exception from the provisional voting requirements of the Help America Vote Act of 2002.
The incoming Republican Assembly Speaker, Robin Vos, told the AP he is open to introducing a measure to eliminate same-day registration in Wisconsin, though he is unlikely to do so in the near future. Vos has introduced similar measures in the past.
Voters who register in Wisconsin on Election Day must provide a proof-of-residence document with their current address -- a drivers' license, utility bill, bank statement or other document. The state's Government Accountability Board said in an email that "[q]uestions often arise at polling places about which documents are acceptable for proof of residence purposes."
Despite a late push by Mitt Romney's presidential campaign and the presence of Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan on the GOP ticket, President Obama won Wisconsin's 10 electoral votes two weeks ago. In June, Walker survived a recall vote spurred by his proposal to end collective bargaining for most public worker unions.
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