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State Bill Targets Election-Day Registration

January 14, 2008

Madison, WI – Election Day registration could soon be a thing of the past in Wisconsin. A proposal currently before an Assembly committee would require voters to register at least two weeks in advance of election dates. But Andrea Kaminski, director of the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, says that would go against Wisconsin's tradition of open elections and relatively high voter turnout.

"Election Day registration has worked very well in Wisconsin for 30 years. Election Day registration makes it possible for more voters to vote. It's no coincidence that those six states with Election Day registration have higher turnouts than the other states."

Supporters of the proposal, Assembly Bill 158, say the change is needed to prevent fraud and streamline the voting process. Kaminski suggests that providing better funding and training for poll workers would be a more effective way to address both of those issues.

In fact, she says, there is no evidence of problems with the current system. Therefore, there is no reason to put obstacles in the voting process, especially if they could have negative effects.

"There's good reason to believe that some eligible voters will lose their chance to vote if they don't have this option."

Rob Ferrett/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - WI