Same-day voter registration used heavily, leans Democratic

2012-12-17T00:00:00Z 2013-01-06T21:08:26Z Same-day voter registration used heavily, leans DemocraticWisconsin State Journal La Crosse Tribune
December 17, 2012 12:00 am  • 

MADISON — Voters in Wisconsin’s Democratic leaning counties have been more likely to register to vote the same day they cast their ballots, but Republican areas also saw heavy use of the state’s last-minute registration law, state election records show.

One in eight ballots — almost a million votes in all — came from voters who registered just before voting in three recent statewide elections, according to the data from the Government Accountability Board.

Wisconsin doesn’t require declaration of a party preference, so the records don’t reveal which party’s supporters most often sign up to vote at the last minute, but some patterns are clear. And the numbers — from elections in November 2008, November 2010 and the June 2012 gubernatorial recall — indicate the practice of same-day registration is widespread and sometimes unpredictable:

• Nearly two-thirds of election day registrations were in counties where a majority voted for Democratic candidates in the three elections.

• Populous and reliably Democratic counties of Dane and Milwaukee had rates of election day registration above the state average, recording nearly one-third of the state total in the three elections, about 318,000 voters. Republican stronghold Waukesha County was below average with just 6 percent of the total for the 72 counties, about 58,000 voters.

• The highest rates of election day registration from the three elections were in two rural, solidly GOP counties — Grant and Washburn — where about one in four voters registered at the polls in the 2010 election won by Republican Gov. Scott Walker, more than twice the 10.5 percent statewide rate.

• The lowest rate in each of the three elections was in rural Iron County, which voted for Barack Obama for president in 2008 and for Walker in the other two elections.

• The statewide rate was 16 percent of voters in Democratic-leaning counties registering on the day of the presidential election in 2008, when Obama easily won Wisconsin. In GOP-leaning areas, however, it was just 2.6 percentage points lower. Two years later when Republican Walker won, the same-day registration rate was 5.9 percentage points higher for Democratic areas.

The data demonstrate at least a loose connection between same-day registration and heavier Democratic voting, said Barry Burden, a UW-Madison professor who studies Wisconsin elections.

“Democratic voters are generally younger, more urban, and more mobile, thus putting them in categories that necessitate more frequent (address) changes to keep their registration up to date,” Burden said. “It makes sense that Republican counties are those with more stable populations, and thus have less need for EDR (election day registration).”

Last week, Wisconsin Republicans were edging away from their desire to repeal the 1975 law allowing same-day registration after a GAB report estimated the change would cost taxpayers at least $5 million to implement and about $1 million annually after that because of federal mandates. With the same-day registration law in effect, the mandates don’t apply.

Democrats warned that the GOP hasn’t ruled out another attempt to repeal the law, which they said would reduce voter turnout, especially in traditional Democratic strongholds such as college campuses and low-income areas.

Allowed in eight states

Wisconsin is one of eight states that allow registration on election day, and the practice is cited as a reason for the state’s high voter turnout.

People must register when they come of voting age, when they change their address or name, or after the state voids their registration because they haven’t voted for four years.

Address changes may be the largest single reason for election day registrations, according to GAB data.

While registration can be handled by mail, the state enacted same-day registration to make it easier for voters whose work schedules make it extremely hard to visit clerks offices during working hours and for people without reliable transportation.

The popularity of the law has remained relatively steady in general elections since 1984, ranging from a rate of 6.5 percent of all voters in 2002 to nearly 20 percent in 2006, when 1,500 small towns were required for the first time to register voters.

Walker recently breathed new life into talk about repealing the law, but he accompanied his college-age son to a Wauwatosa polling place to register and vote on the day of the GOP Senate primary in August. Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie registered at an East Side Madison polling place on the day of this year’s presidential election, said city clerk Maribeth Witzel-Behl. Werwie said he needed to register because of a change of address.

Geoff Zahn, 19, of Madison, registered Nov. 6 when he arrived at his West Side polling place and found out he wasn’t listed.

“I like how you get to register on voting day,” said Zahn, an MATC computer science student who works 30 hours a week at a shoe store. He said he is an independent voter who picks Libertarian candidates when the major parties haven’t fielded someone he likes.

Another West Side resident, 66-year-old Donald York, said he voted for the first time on Nov. 6. The retired car repair estimator said he wanted to see Obama win a second term. York said he never thought elections were important until he started thinking about what the future will look like for his seven grandchildren. York said he wasn’t entirely sure he would vote until Election Day.

“I guess you could say the spirit moved me,” he said. “It was kind of at the prodding of my wife. She votes every year.”

Without same-day registration, many people would register earlier, but research shows that participation in elections would decline, said Ken Mayer, a UW-Madison political science professor who specializes in election administration.

Partisan disagreements

Republicans have made several unsuccessful attempts to repeal the state law, saying that it burdened election clerks and increased the risk of voter fraud — although clerks support the law and investigations have found no significant fraud problems.

Tanya Parlow Stewart, who has been the city clerk in Jefferson since 1996, said she sets up a separate area in polling places for registration so it doesn’t slow others who are ready to vote.

“We’ve learned how to work with the current laws and we’ve got a pretty streamlined process,” Stewart said. “At any given time we might have 20 to 30 people sitting down to register, and none at other times.”

Incoming state Sen. Minority Leader Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee, said the registration patterns revealed in the state data buttress his belief that greater access to voting helps Democratic Party candidates.

“When more people vote, elections go toward Democrats,” Larson said. “When less people vote it goes toward Republicans.”

Incoming leaders of the Republican majority in the Legislature — Senate Majority Leader-elect Scott Fitzgerald of Juneau, and Assembly Speaker-elect Robin Vos of Rochester — didn’t respond to telephone and email requests for comment.

Walker, who revived the issue in a speech last month, said on Wednesday he wouldn’t sign a repeal bill because of the estimated $5 million cost. Rep. Joel Kleefisch, R-Oconomowoc, who is considering drafting a bill to eliminate same-day registration, also said the cost gave him “pause.” Democrats noted that the bill could be enacted without his signature, and Walker has not promised a veto.

Copyright 2015 La Crosse Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(45) Comments

  1. Frank Grayson
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    Frank Grayson - December 18, 2012 12:11 am
    "Used heavily, leans democratic".

    What a surprise. Just as absentee ballots and early voting "lean democratic".

    Vote early, vote often. The democrat motto.
  2. pheasant
    Report Abuse
    pheasant - December 17, 2012 10:50 am
    If this 702 Franciscan Way address is acceptable for voter registration, then WHy is it not acceptable for a recall?

    A acceptable answer is not, 'Nestor sucks'? LOL!
  3. pheasant
    Report Abuse
    pheasant - December 17, 2012 10:39 am
    Opus- The challenge in FACT has nothing to do with the 'Decision'. Of course they knew it would be challenged. Read the above post starting with "BTW" and respond to that? Point by point......please.

    Not gonna happen!
  4. pheasant
    Report Abuse
    pheasant - December 17, 2012 10:35 am
    Site Trolls- You cannot rationalize that with 'Nestor sucks', can you? LOL! again very hard. Keep em coming!
  5. pheasant
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    pheasant - December 17, 2012 10:33 am
    BTW- Clerk Lerhke with her irrelevant/never mentioned is WI Statutes Recall Bible of "Registered", her 'Decision' on the Recall under her arm. Never gave the Recall Movement a list of names she deemed not acceptable or she stamped good. I guess in all her infinite wisdom to seek the TRUTH they were supposed to GUESS??????? LOL! What a charade of Partisan Club Membership, and unprofessional conduct in Office. The clock starts now, Viterbo is closed, the Adult Students have gone home to families for X-mas, you do not have a clue who is who, and you have 5 days starting Friday? LOL!!!!
  6. TeapartiesR4L'ilGirls
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    TeapartiesR4L'ilGirls - December 17, 2012 6:49 am

    Walker and Huebsch did not save you a dime. You are a taker, not a productive contributor.
  7. quimby
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    quimby - December 17, 2012 3:23 am
    I have been amazed by the policies and laws implemented over the past two years that have fundamentally altered many of the values that once made me proud to live in Wisconsin - devotion to educated communities, fair working conditions, and limited voting barriers are a few of these values that are much different under the Walker administration and Republican controlled legislative body. This most recent discussion, though, enrages me and has ensured that the Republicans will have one fewer independent voter to appeal to. What are the benefits of this law? Clearly there are no monetary advantages to repealing same-day voter registration; in fact, it costs us money if we repeal it. This is as bad, or worse, than gerrymandering and voter I.D. laws. We should be working to reduce barriers to voting so that we live in a truly democratic society where elected officials truly represent a constituency. Another step in the wrong direction and another alienated voter. Irate!
  8. TeapartiesR4L'ilGirls
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    TeapartiesR4L'ilGirls - December 17, 2012 1:01 am

    You have a disdain for people who WORK while you collect money from the government trough for doing NOTHING. You make comments about the 47 percent when you are part of the 47 percent.

    Loser. If you can spent hours typing your pathetic repetitious rants, you can be doing something so you do not collect a government check.
  9. pheasant
    Report Abuse
    pheasant - December 16, 2012 9:39 pm
    Do you have any idea the amount Walker and Huebsch saved us by cutting the WRS by 5.8%. Of course you do not. Because you are a noise. Just that, a noise!

    Let me give you a hint. The WRS Board increased 'the contribution' by a mere 8% average. Just for Lacrosse City Employees. So a increase of (let's just say 10%) gross pay. The cost for City Employees in just Lacrosse was $220k for the first partial year. $5 million? Peanuts for what you are your ilk have burdened your neighbors with.

    Now tell me why we have never heard the total cost for WI? (towns, city, county, educators, state workers) Oh yeah, and then the politicians who put n 6 years and gather near $1700 per month. That's fair, oh yeah that is fair. LOL!!!!! It's a fricking Club. Your neighbors are paying for it's dues?

    And these dim wits want to talk about my disability and diss me for the help I received? They do not have a clue. They are just bad people!
  10. pheasant
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    pheasant - December 16, 2012 9:31 pm
    In front of real people, Who are not so lazy they do not show up. But take crotch shots at people on Threads, anonymous. Coward.
  11. TeapartiesR4L'ilGirls
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    TeapartiesR4L'ilGirls - December 16, 2012 6:37 pm

    If you are mayor and the council approves a resolution to publish names of delinquent city property taxpayers, will you attempt a veto?
  12. TeapartiesR4L'ilGirls
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    TeapartiesR4L'ilGirls - December 16, 2012 6:35 pm

    Of course when I am pointing out obvious hypocrisy regarding your repetitive rants, which seems to the reason for your current existence, you get defensive and resort to names and continue to avoid answering a very simple question.

    Honestly answering the questions makes your years of foolish rants even more ridiculous.

    You are part of the 47 percent that you believe you should disdain.

  13. pheasant
    Report Abuse
    pheasant - December 16, 2012 5:55 pm
    Oh, and I will and do. When a person stands in front of me with an identity. Not an anonymous cowardly troll. Get a clue.
  14. TeapartiesR4L'ilGirls
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    TeapartiesR4L'ilGirls - December 16, 2012 5:39 pm
    Of course you won't answer, Nestor.

    You go and make a big point on the importance of Romney's 47 percent. Yet, you obviously won't easily put to bed whether your remark is hypocritical or not.
  15. greater
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    greater - December 16, 2012 4:52 pm
    Maybe you should concentrate on getting current on your property taxes.
  16. Tim Russell
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    Tim Russell - December 16, 2012 4:32 pm
    I guess he didn't like my teabaggers being lazy keystone cops post.
  17. hammer
    Report Abuse
    hammer - December 16, 2012 3:46 pm
    And peasant, if you are going to run for public office, you'd better be ready to answer questions about your personal affairs. Especially when you constantly call into question the affairs of others.
  18. hammer
    Report Abuse
    hammer - December 16, 2012 3:43 pm
    $5 million annually to "solve" a problem that does not exist. And we are "broke!" Walker is a buffoon.
  19. pheasant
    Report Abuse
    pheasant - December 16, 2012 3:21 pm
    I have been concetrated on the reason to Recall Kader. It is/has been because she has voted to stop Free Speech in Lacrosse. A whole 3 minutes! LOL!
  20. pheasant
    Report Abuse
    pheasant - December 16, 2012 3:18 pm
    I will never again answer Tim. And after this post I will never answer TeaLils either. To attack a disabled person for political reasons is unforgiveable, and very dirty. Just plain dirty. Tea Party is Mildred, and has no boundaries. Just a ugly retired WRS Employee in AZ, with nothing else to do.
  21. pheasant
    Report Abuse
    pheasant - December 16, 2012 3:15 pm
    Actually.......again. If you would care to look I posted that it would be 'fixed'. I also posted that there is s very good side because Lehrke would just breath more life into the shenanigans in Lacrosse and keep it alive. Actually.....again. A previous Councilman and I discussed that very same thing, and agreed before Friday. Now that is the TRUTH, sorry.
  22. pheasant
    Report Abuse
    pheasant - December 16, 2012 3:11 pm
    Then Lil, you would be wrong......again!
  23. Opus
    Report Abuse
    Opus - December 16, 2012 2:06 pm
    Did you not plan for that, pheasant? Did you not know there would be a challenge and how long is could be before the clerk responded?

    Keep up the blame game.
  24. Opus
    Report Abuse
    Opus - December 16, 2012 2:00 pm
    He didn't answer Tim's question either....just more insults.
  25. TeapartiesR4L'ilGirls
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    TeapartiesR4L'ilGirls - December 16, 2012 1:55 pm
    Simple question to answer, Nestor.
  26. TeapartiesR4L'ilGirls
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    TeapartiesR4L'ilGirls - December 16, 2012 1:51 pm

    I have never observed any post from you answering the question I have posed. Again you are avoiding the question. However, the avoidance allows reasonable persons to understand what the answer is.

  27. Opus
    Report Abuse
    Opus - December 16, 2012 1:36 pm
    Conspiracy! Conspiracy! Oh pheasant, you never fail to entertain....
    It's everyone's fault but the recall committee who didn't bother to know the laws concerning recalls.
    IF there are disenfranchised voters, its the fault of your group that didn't know the laws.

    It must be an amazing thing to go through life never being wrong, pheasant......
  28. Balancr
    Report Abuse
    Balancr - December 16, 2012 1:16 pm
    Quit hiding behind your words Pheasant. Your implying voter fraud exists with the Viterbo students- and you're trying to suppress it by hiding in details. Proceed.
  29. pheasant
    Report Abuse
    pheasant - December 16, 2012 1:07 pm
    Can you really say that you believe Lehrke did not know that Viterbo was locked up, and the adult students had gone home to their families for the Season? LOL!!!!!!! Oh Yeah!
  30. pheasant
    Report Abuse
    pheasant - December 16, 2012 1:03 pm
    TeaLil- Is not only a merit-less Troll. The information which he requests from me has been documented many times on this Thread. What he wants to do is attempt to drag a Disabled Person through his imaginary mud? Now does that illustrate the caliber of person this guy is? They have no 'boundaries' for what they will do for what they receive, and what you pay for.
  31. pheasant
    Report Abuse
    pheasant - December 16, 2012 12:47 pm
    I will continue, Thank You. As I have for the last two decades. Once again, what is good for the Goose, is not for the Gander. Clerk Lerhke/Kader/Dems are the Goose Balancr? The young students at Viterbo are the Ganders.
  32. Balancr
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    Balancr - December 16, 2012 12:16 pm
    Voter fraud is a myth - and attempts to prove it are actually supports of voter supression. This is well known Pheasant. Oh - and lawmakers who are supporters of voter fraud have, are, and will continue to get pulverized at the polls. So please continue your rant in support of the existence of voter fraud. Please proceed Pheasant.
  33. pheasant
    Report Abuse
    pheasant - December 16, 2012 12:12 pm
    Let's review Tim once and for all. Tim has little of merit ever to add. Tim attacks many of this site personally. Tim is a epitome of a Troll. Last but not least Tim makes fun of even Disabled people if they do not belong to Tim's Club. Tim is a loser.

    Tim from this day forward should not be recognized.
  34. pheasant
    Report Abuse
    pheasant - December 16, 2012 12:04 pm
    There could not be a clearer illustration of the pick-n-chose partisan/Dem/WRS side. Than the Kader Recall, and the Walker Recall.

    The Kadr Recall movement has asked for previous Kader District voting records. First, they will not be handed out during the limited time to answer Clerk Lerhke's 5 day limit. Second, Those records will show too clearly that 702 Franciscan way was used without any scrutiny? Imagine that? What is god for the goose, is not good for the Gander. Also, the Tribune will not gather ANY Ganders opinions. Even the 'Viterbo Students' who gathered almost all the signatures of any other Viterbo Students. Instead when I ask Bloom tomorrow who she contacted in the student population. How she contacted them. Why she did not contact any of the signature collectors comments. That lived on the very same Campus and were.........students as well.
  35. Tim Russell
    Report Abuse
    Tim Russell - December 16, 2012 11:57 am
    Don't you have time to cure the disallowed signatures?
  36. pheasant
    Report Abuse
    pheasant - December 16, 2012 11:54 am
    I have posted all before clearly. Once again you are a regular participant in these Threads, ignorant, and to lazy to do that search. No change here anonymous, noisy, coward!
  37. Balancr
    Report Abuse
    Balancr - December 16, 2012 11:49 am
    Lol. Atlas Shrugged Pheasant? My how the rides have turned. Attempts by millionaires and their bureaucrats to use money, to suppress votes, to make more money. Ohh...Atlas just shrugged at your comments. This is voter suppression- and no-one is fooled. But keep ranting it- that's the kind of rhetoric that is getting rejected nationally. So I for one support you!
  38. TeapartiesR4L'ilGirls
    Report Abuse
    TeapartiesR4L'ilGirls - December 16, 2012 11:41 am
    Strange that Nestor brings up college students and his concern about them not being represented. As the article points out, they use same day registration more often because of their mobility.
  39. TeapartiesR4L'ilGirls
    Report Abuse
    TeapartiesR4L'ilGirls - December 16, 2012 11:33 am

    You avoided the question about your disability policy and if it required you to apply for social security disability.
  40. pheasant
    Report Abuse
    pheasant - December 16, 2012 11:31 am
    Today in the Tribune they speak again of Un-Registered voters. But the same paper sits mute while young Viterbo 'ADULTS' are disenfranchised by Clerk Lerhke. In a spot check that we are to believe is a mentioned or relevant source, 'Registered Voter List'? When in fact a PO Directory lies without even being perused. Now that deserves an article that we wil never see. Even from a Mayoral Candidate/activist/Lacrosse Watch Dog. You will only read one side....almost all the time.

    But on the other hand the Tribune will call Kader in our past to much of the time rather than call the Mayor on any given business????? WHY?
  41. pheasant
    Report Abuse
    pheasant - December 16, 2012 11:03 am
    The most profound statement in the last Presidential Election was in regard to 47%. Because the others are filling their pockets on the shoulders of that 47%. And we are heading toward a society where Atlas Shrugged prophesied it long ago. Wake up 47%.
  42. pheasant
    Report Abuse
    pheasant - December 16, 2012 10:59 am
    All the while the PO/Mailing address at Viterbo has a directory available to Clerk Lerhke, students, and a PO that includes 'ONLY' 702 Franciscan Way Lacrosse 54601. And the mail gets amazingly delivered to these 'Young Adults' through a Viterbo Mailing Room who might not have ever voted before. Imagine that!.
  43. pheasant
    Report Abuse
    pheasant - December 16, 2012 10:57 am
    You have to laugh, if not cry. First, this is about money and power. Not people getting out to vote. I mean come on! The reach out to people that are previously not involved in Politics. That is undeniable. As far as the young? Well we are presently getting a good odes of that. The Kader Recall should be a teaching tool in that course. When the shoe is on the other foot. Here is a high ranking Dem bureaucrat. Who in Kader's case does not want votes against her. So she not only took to dissing those "first time voters". She and her WRS/Dem friends disenfranchised them at Viterbo. By somehow in a dysfunctional, wrong, erroneous, non-statute search/guise for residency by checking with a irrelevant/never mentioned in statute Registered voting list. The FACT? Is that if they were not found on that irrelevant list they were cut/disenfranchised, or at least temporarily railed for being young. The same age we throw at people overseas to die in the name of our Country???
  44. GrandpaS
    Report Abuse
    GrandpaS - December 16, 2012 9:42 am
    The Headline: "Same-day voter registration used heavily, leans Democratic." Which explains why the Kleefish's and Gov. Walker, in spite of Walker's "reassuring words" to the contrary, will have Wisconsin's same day registration revoked in the next 3 to 6 months. I hope I'm wrong. Experience indicates I'm not. Republicans nationwide have shown they're not above using voter suppression to swing elections their way. Just exactly what is the difference if "same-day-register" voters vote left or right? The main thing is, they're voting. After that, it's none of anybody's business who they vote for. Secret ballot, remember? If surveys found that this same group was voting conservative, nobody in Madison would be giving same day registration a second glance.
  45. Balancr
    Report Abuse
    Balancr - December 16, 2012 9:07 am
    Ah, yes, voter supression tactic Walker. You can pretend you don't care, but you'll sign - and when you do, the country will know
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