Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Wisconsin's same-day voter registration threatened

Did anyone catch the story about Wisconsin's primary election on NPR's Morning Edition this morning?

With sounds of a local coffeeshop in the background (I must have shown up right after the story was recorded - or Cap Times Associate Editor John Nichols lives there - likely both), Nichols was quoted on the openness of Wisconsin's primaries and elections. He mentioned that Wisconsin has one of the most open elections system in the country, one where you can not only vote for whomever you wish (no party restrictions in primary voting) but you can also register on the day you vote.

Same-day voter registration in Wisconsin is currently under attack. There has been a bill introduced in the Assembly to end same-day voter registration that if passed would complicate the voting process for the Wisconsin citizens who want to participate in their democracy. The people who would be most affected are students, anyone who moves near election time, younger/new/infrequent voters, or simply busy working folks. We should be in the business of encouraging participation in our democracy, not turning people away from the polls who would otherwise be eligible to vote.

You can get ahead by finding out if you are registered to vote now. If you voted in the last election (November '06) and haven't moved, you're ready to vote again. If you live in Madison, you can visit the city clerk's website for more information. Not in Madison but live in Wisconsin? Check out the WI Government Accountability Board's Elections Division website. They have a new "Voter Public Access" database (thanks to the HAVA/Accenture statewide voter list) where all you need is your name and birth date and you can find your polling location along with a very complete list of all of the elected officials who represent and serve you.