The state Senate passed a bill Tuesday that would allow Wisconsin residents to register to vote online, putting the state on track to join 30 other states that offer online registration. Though Democrats support online registration, they voted against the measure Tuesday due to provisions eliminating special registration deputies who help voters register in person. Democrats argued the elimination of deputies would hamper voter drives and could disenfranchise students, seniors and low-income voters. “This is sort of a bait-and-switch bill,” said Sen. Fred Risser, D-Madison. “In effect, it doesn’t help with registration — it hurts the whole concept. It reduces opportunities to vote.”
The bill’s author, Sen. Devin LeMahieu, R-Oostburg, said the special registration deputies would no longer be necessary because anyone will be able to go out and register voters using their smartphone or tablet.
“I’m kind of amazed that it’s getting this much discussion when all you’re doing is changing how the registration will happen,” said Sen. Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald. “We’re not making it more difficult, but certainly we are being asked by both parties at the national level to adapt to new technologies.”