Cost of Eliminating Election Day Registration in Wisconsin

Recently, several Wisconsin legislators have discussed drafting legislation to end Election Day registration, which the state has allowed for more than 35 years. 

The Government Accountability Board (GAB), which runs elections in Wisconsin, released a preliminary report estimating that ending Election Day registration would cost just the Board alone $5.2 million. Additional costs to other state agencies will be provided when the final report is released. The new costs to the GAB are largely due to provisions of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) of 1993 and the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002.

The state is currently exempt from both of these federal laws. Should Election Day voter registration be revoked, however, Wisconsin would need to comply with all aspects of NVRA, including providing registration opportunities at motor vehicle offices and public assistance agencies and meeting voter list maintenance requirements, and would be subject to the HAVA provision mandating that voters who show up at the polls and are not on the rolls be issued provisional ballots.

Governor Walker has said he would not sign such a bill due to this cost.

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