Gov. Scott Walker still says that he won’t sign a bill to eliminate same-day voter registration.
His spokesman reiterated that stance Monday after a new report showed the cost to Wisconsin taxpayers for eliminating the registration would be up to $14.5 million — nearly triple the original estimate of $5 million.
The first estimate was in December, which prompted Walker to say that he wouldn’t sign the bill. The new estimate was released Monday by the Government Accountability Board, which consulted with four state agencies that would be affected.
Supporters say the law encourages voting. Between 10 and 15 percent of state voters in major elections register on the day of voting or update their information, the GAB said.
In the June recall election for governor, 8.9 percent of voters in Chippewa County registered on the day of the election. Those figures were even higher in Eau Claire (11.4), Rusk (12.5) and Dunn (13.0) counties.
But Walker and many state Republicans have said they support eliminating same-day voter registration, calling it burdensome for local election officials and a contributor to election fraud.
We credit the governor — whose own son registered at the polls in November — for saying that the state should not be making changes that cost money. Now it’s time for his party to follow suit.
Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said Monday that he was skeptical of the GAB report. Never mind that it came from state agencies like the Department of Transportation and the Department of Health Services that are controlled by the governor.
But Republicans have not let facts get in the way of perpetuating the myth that voter fraud is rampant in Wisconsin. It was one of their main talking points in passing a voter ID bill last year that is being challenged and is still before the courts.
We doubt the party is going to do anything to change its position on election fraud, even if the team from Discovery Channel’s “MythBusters” proved them wrong.
The reason that changing same-day registration would add cost is that two federal acts — the National Voter Registration Act and the Help America Vote Act — would be enacted. Wisconsin is exempt because it allows registration on Election Day. Without that, Wisconsin would need to establish a voter registration system at state offices that provide driver’s licenses or public assistance.
Wisconsin is one of eight states that allow same-day registration. We also are among the nation’s leaders in voter turnout. Participatory democracy is among the healthiest actions a citizen can take.
It’s time that Republicans acknowledge that the governor is right. Drop the pretense and focus on bills that help Wisconsin citizens, not penalize them.