nding same day registration unlikely to pass Legislature in 2014
Written By: Logan Carlson
MARSHFIELD — A proposal by a conservative Republican state senator to remove the state’s same-day voting registration system is unlikely to gain the political willpower to pass the Legislature during the few remaining days it is in session.
State Sen. Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend, has been trying to garner support for his bill that would eliminate same-day registration and admitted it’s unlikely to pass this session. He still remains hopeful it can be taken up next year, according to reports from the Wisconsin State Journal.
About 10 percent to 12 percent of Wisconsin’s voters register to vote the same day as elections are held, which has helped make some of the highest levels of voter participation in the United States.
It’s unclear, if the proposal were to pass both houses of the Legislature, whether Gov. Scott Walker would sign the bill into law. In 2012, Walker floated the idea of ending same-day registration, only to backtrack a month later after the Government Accountability Board reported it would cost the state about $13.5 million and would not end administrative work for clerks who supervise elections.
If eliminated, the state would have to institute voter registration programs at Department of Motor Vehicles offices and other state agencies that provide public assistance programs, and it would open Wisconsin up to more federal oversight of elections.
Local legislators seemed to be in agreement with Grothman’s sense that the bill won’t get much support this session.
“I haven’t heard a lot about this bill, and since it got introduced so late in the session, I don’t see this bill going anywhere,” said Rep. Scott Krug, R-Rome, in an email Friday afternoon.
Sen. Jennifer Schilling, D-La Crosse, introduced a constitutional amendment Friday afternoon that would codify every qualified elector’s right to vote in the state constitution, which has garnered the support of both Rep. Katrina Shankland, D-Stevens Point, and Sen. Julie Lassa, D-Stevens Point.
“So many of these people will wrap themselves in the constitution during debates and in their rhetoric, but they’re introducing proposals like these, that to me go against the grain of the constitution, and restrict a citizen’s ability to have access and have a say in who is elected, and a voice in their government,” Lassa said.
Shankland said this proposal should serve as a warning for what Republicans are planning to do after the fall elections if they hold control of the Legislature.
Grothman did not return a message left with staff seeking comment for this story. Both Rep. John Spiros, R-Marshfield, and Rep. Bob Kulp, R-Stratford, could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon.
Shankland and Lassa also voiced opposition to a bill that would limit in-person absentee voting to between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. on weekdays in the two weeks before an election.