Friday, November 23, 2012

Walker goes on offensive on same-day registration

Attacks on same-day voter registration a political ploy

Be prepared: Scott Walker isn’t done making democracy less accessible to the people.

In a speech he gave -- in California of all places -- outlining his plans for Wisconsin with a new, Republican-led legislature, Gov. Walker came out in strong opposition to the Badger State’s 40-year old tradition of same-day voter registration.

The practice allows all citizens, not just those who registered days or weeks before, the opportunity to vote. Registration takes just a few minutes, and requires simple proofs of residency within the ward you plan to vote in.

Gov. Walker wants to get rid of same-day voter registration
Citing the fatigue of volunteer poll workers, Walker stated that “it would be much better if registration was done in advance of Election Day, easier for our clerks to handle that.”

Same-day voter registration, though scorned by the right as somehow a “burden,” is perhaps the largest contributing aspect to our state’s high voter turnout. What’s more, there isn’t a lick of evidence, despite what some conservatives claim, that the practice might be riddled with fraud. Quite the contrary -- same-day registration has been shown to increase democracy, not hamper it.

In fact, in 2008 more than 460,000 voters in WIsconsin registered to vote on Election Day. Disenfranchising a number of the electorate that size would be like telling every voting-age resident of the city of Brookfield, Wisconsin, that they couldn’t vote -- for the next 15 election cycles.

Walker feigns concern that registration of voters should be done well in advance of Election Day. Yet, if Walker were truly concerned about alleviating the workload of poll workers, he’d find a way to lessen the “burden.” Instead, he’s done the opposite -- he and his Republican cohorts in the legislature severely truncated the time in which voters can “early vote,” shortening when municipal clerks can accept ballots, thereby actually increasing the workload for poll workers on Election Day.

The attack on the access to democracy is evident in Gov. Walker’s agenda. Despite claims of being pro-business and pro-jobs, Walker has instead shown us his focus is elsewhere, mostly on preserving a conservative majority in state politics (despite evidence that the voters want something else).

That’s not the purpose of his position in government -- but it’s precisely what Gov. Walker is using his office as a means to accomplish.

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