Madison Office: 122 South, State Capitol  Phone: (608) 266-7745  E-mail: Sen.Harsdorf@legis.wi.gov

April 1, 2010

 

Democrats’ Changes to Voting Laws Costly & Risky

 

With only two weeks of session remaining before the State Legislature adjourns, a number of bills are on the ‘fast-track’ to become law.  Companion bills authored by legislative Democrats and pushed by a prominent liberal advocacy group, would overhaul voter registration laws.  The bills, Assembly Bill 895 and Senate Bill 640, were passed out of committee on a party line vote only eight days after being introduced and without so much as a basic fiscal estimate.

 

These companion bills seek to utilize state records to automatically register voters regardless of voter eligibility and make new requirements on local governments for the distribution and means of providing absentee ballots.  It also provides that these new records would be eventually integrated into a national database.

 

The changes inherently relax safeguards against voter fraud.  For example, a University ID card alone would be offered as proof of residence, even though many students maintain home residency in different states or countries.  Simple protections against voter fraud that could help balance such changes, such as voter identification, have been repeatedly rejected by Democratic leadership.  The bill even limits the ability of residents to challenge the legality of specific ballots. 

 

As concerning, these bills would create new costs for local governments and property taxpayers.  Local governments would automatically be required to prepare and mail absentee ballots for each election on a permanent basis, without updated individual requests.  Town Clerks have contacted me to express their alarm with such new unfunded mandates, expressing that they might have to mail thousands of ballots in elections where turnout can be very small.  Additionally, “satellite absentee ballot stations” could be established at places such as college dorms.

 

Wisconsin already has same-day voter registration that validates proof of residency.  It takes just a few minutes and is pointed to as a national model for ease of voting.  Expanding registration in the fashion these bills propose is a recipe for expanding voter fraud.  Fraudulent votes disenfranchise honest voters.

 

I welcome your feedback on these bills.  You can find me online at www.harsdorfsenate.com or by calling my Senate office at 1-800-862-1092.