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Our View: Eliminating same-day registration would be costly and unnecessary

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What’s dumber than fixing a problem that doesn’t exist? Spending millions of dollars to accomplish the folly.

If Wisconsin leaders really need to focus on creating jobs and growing our economy,

why are some Republican legislators talking about doing away with same-day voter registration?

We’ve heard just about every explanation you can imagine.

We’ve heard that the process causes election-day problems for municipal clerks.

That hardly squares with the post-election letter to the editor the Tribune published from Ron and Lynn Sunne of Holmen — both retirees who worked the polls on Election Day. They wrote that they were well-trained to process registrations and keep up with demand — and pleased with the large turnout.

“Our town clerk, Marilyn Pedretti, had everything set up to run effectively and efficiently. She has our thanks for doing an amazing job,” they wrote, adding that Wisconsin should look for ways to increase voter turnout.

But there’s another minor detail brought to light by the Government Accountability Board, which oversees elections in our state.

The state passed the same-day voter registration law in 1975. Because of that, we are exempt from federal regulations, including some provisions involving notification of voters.

But if Wisconsin did away with same-day registration and was forced to comply with federal election regulations, it would cost the state $5.2 million immediately — and an additional $1.9 million every two years after that, according to preliminary estimates.

In terms of our state

budget, that amount is pocket change.

But there seems to be a larger message that is very troubling: Backers of this proposal seem convinced that it’s worth wasting millions of taxpayer dollars to make it more difficult for residents of our state to vote.

That’s a lousy example of politics trumping democracy.

We should feel proud about our state’s turnout in the recent election. We shouldn’t feel threatened by it. And we certainly should be ashamed by any effort that tries to make it more difficult for any eligible voter to vote — especially when the reason is plainly political.

Goodness, even Gov. Scott Walker’s oldest son — with Dad in tow — registered at the polls on Election Day.

While the governor doesn’t believe that convenience is reason enough to keep the same-day registration provisions, he did tell the editorial board of the Chippewa Herald recently that the state shouldn’t be making changes that cost money.

Let’s hope his party is listening.


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