Gov. Scott Walker said he was only looking out for beleaguered pollworkers when he suggested during a talk in California earlier this month that Wisconsin should consider getting rid of same-day voter registration. But the state’s municipal clerks — the ones who run elections — are not looking to be relieved of the extra work, said Diane Hermann-Brown, election communications chairwoman for the Wisconsin Municipal Clerks’ Association. In fact, eliminating the practice would create a “heavy burden” on municipalities and the state, said Hermann-Brown, who is the city clerk in Sun Prairie. “There’s no way we’d be in favor of that,” she said.
If same-day registration were eliminated, the state would no longer be exempt from a whole raft of federal provisions, Hermann-Brown said, including requiring state social-service agencies and driver’s license bureaus to register voters.
Clerks also would be required to issue provisional ballots to voters whose registrations could not immediately be verified, she said. Such ballots require extra effort by both clerks and voters before they can be counted. And large numbers of uncounted provisional ballots means election results could be delayed by days, Hermann-Brown said.
Walker said asking pollworkers to also register voters made for too much work, and “it’d be much better if registration was done in advance of Election Day.” Spokesman Cullen Werwie has declined to elaborate, saying the governor would evaluate any such bill if one is introduced.
But Madison City Clerk Maribeth Witzel-Behl said the provision “is not really a big hassle.”
“It takes about a minute to process such a registration,” she said. “Then it’s in the system for the next election.”