Worry over possible voting changes in Wisconsin

Published On: Nov 20 2012 04:44:07 PM CST   Updated On: Nov 20 2012 07:25:33 PM CST
LA CROSSE, Wis. -

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker says he would like to do away with a law that allows people in the state to register at the polls.

During a speech this weekend in California, the Republican said he thinks that it would be "much better" if Wisconsin ended same day voter registration.

Wisconsin is one of eight states in the nation with the voter-friendly law. Minnesota and Iowa also offer same day voter registration.

Governor Walker said he thinks the current law is too burdensome on municipal clerks. Some, however, say the proposal is just an effort to drive away voters.

"We registered over 1,000 people at the polls on election day so it was pretty heavy," said Cari Burmaster, Onalaska's City Clerk.

Burmaster says she'd prefer if more people registered ahead of time. However, she does not completely agree with Governor Walker's reasoning for wanting to end same day registration.

"We might be getting into more provisional ballots and if we go into doing more provisional ballots, that is even more time consuming because there's more paperwork," said Burmaster.

Governor Walker's office declined to provide any more details on Tuesday about why he wants the change or whether he plans to pursue it in the next legislative session.

"It seems to me this is a pretty obvious way to make it more difficult for people to vote," said Jane Klekamp, president of the League of Women Voters of the La Crosse Area.

Klekamp questions Walker's motivation for wanting to end same day registration.

"There's hasn't been anything to indicate there's a downside to it," said Klekamp.

"As long as there hasn't been some obvious downside for same day registration, it seems like there's a solution in search of a problem," she added.

The Democratic Party of Wisconsin has called the proposal a blatant attempt at suppressing Democratic voters. Officials say Democrats make-up the majority of same day registrants.

Either way, there's no doubt that states with same day registration historically have higher turnout than those that do not.

In the 2010 fall election, Illinois and Michigan had respective turnouts of 38.3% and 42.8%. Both states do not have same day registration.

In that same election, neighbor states Wisconsin (49.8%) and Minnesota (52.2%) had much higher turnout. Both states do offer same day registration.