Wisconsin Governor Opposes Same-Day Voter Registration

PHOTO: Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R) spoke at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California on Friday, Nov. 16.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker wants to end same-day voter registration in the state and institute a photo identification law.

The Republican governor said during a speech at the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California on Friday that it would be better if people registered in advance.

"It would be much better if registration was done in advance of Election Day, easier for our clerks to handle that," Walker said.

"States across the country that have same-day registration have real problems because the vast majority of their states have poll workers who are wonderful volunteers, who work 13 hour days, who in most cases are retirees. It's difficult for them to handle the volume [that] comes on that day," he said.

Democrats immediately accused Walker of trying to make voting more difficult for minorities and other groups.

"[D]espite our history of expanding voting rights and running clean and open elections, Scott Walker and his Republican Party have attempted to erect unnecessary road blocks that impede voter access – especially for students, seniors and minorities – at every turn," said Democratic Party of Wisconsin chair Mike Tate in a statement. "That's because Republicans learned a long time ago that when more people vote, Democrats win. They've erected barrier after barrier to keep people from participating, and this is just the next step in the process."

Walker backed a photo ID bill last year, but judges blocked it from taking effect for the 2012 elections. The governor reiterated his commitment to putting one in place, however.

"As you might guess, it stuck in the courts, as is often the case, but we will ultimately prevail…we will have it in future elections," he said.

"We've got to do more to protect the integrity of the vote. It's one of our most fundamental rights," he said. "Not only is it constitutional, it just makes sense."

While Walker and many Republicans support photo ID laws, many critics have pointed out, truthfully, that in-person voter fraud, the kind an ID would help prevent, is almost nonexistent.

The Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law has noted that it is difficult for people, particularly minorities who are more likely to have rigid work schedules, rely on public transportation and lack identifying paperwork, to obtain photo ID. Even when the ID is provided free of charge, many ID-issuing offices are only open for limited hours and they can be hard to reach. Additionally, while the IDs themselves don't cost anything, the documentation needed to obtain an ID is not always free.

Walker, however, is not convinced.

"All the arguments against it are just ridiculous," he said. "I actually think when they bring up race and income, I actually find that to be one of the most discriminatory statements that someone could make because it assumes that just because of someone's ethnicity or race that somehow they can't do what everybody else does in society and get a photo ID."

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