EDITORIAL: Stick with same-day registration
Jan 07, 2011 (The Wisconsin State Journal - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Wisconsin has long been one of the top states in the nation for voting.
Let's keep it that way.
Republican Gov. Scott Walker and the GOP-controlled Legislature should quickly reject Rep. Joel Kleefisch's aggressive push to eliminate same-day voter registration.
The Oconomowoc Republican began circulating a bill this week -- shortly after new state leaders were inaugurated -- to reverse Wisconsin's long and proud tradition of making it relatively easy to vote. Wisconsin has allowed eligible adults to register to vote on the same day of elections since 1976. There's no good reason to start making voting more difficult now.
Very few cases of voter fraud have occurred in Wisconsin in recent elections. And the willingness of Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen to investigate Election Day shenanigans -- however few and far between they are -- serves as a strong deterrent.
For example, a Milwaukee couple was charged with double-voting in the 2008 presidential election. They sent in absentee ballots and went to their polling place to vote.
But the couple, Herb and Suzanne Gunka, insist it was an honest mistake. They say they feared their absentee ballots were not being counted.
Gunka, a hunter and NRA member, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that talk radio chatter about voter fraud on Election Day made him worry he was being disenfranchised. So he went to his polling place, where poll workers didn't indicate that he had already voted absentee.
Whether an honest mistake or not, the controversy had nothing to do with same-day voter registration. And now the Gunkas are in court, facing a felony, up to 3 1/2 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Are we really to believe many if any people would risk that kind of scrutiny and punishment to pick up a couple of extra votes in a presidential election?
Let's keep Wisconsin elections open and honest. Let's continue to encourage as many people as possible to vote if they care about the direction of their local community, state and nation.
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