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The High Cost of Repealing Same Day Registration

Brenden Timpe

A new report from a Wisconsin state agency makes clear that Same Day Registration is not just a low-cost way to make voting more accessible. It can even be a budget-saver.

The report from the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board dealt a blow to advocates of repealing the state’s Same Day Registration policy. It pegged the cost of such a change as high as $14.5 million. Some of the costs are one-time expenditures, but many will be ongoing.

The report, which tracks with the results of a Demos study conducted last year, is yet another nail in the coffin of arguments against Same Day Registration. After all, the benefits are very clear. The Government Accountability Board found that 10 to 15 percent of Wisconsinites register or update their registration on Election Day. That’s a lot of people who would be turned away or forced to cast their lot with a provisional ballot if not for Same Day Registration.

In fact, as the Wisconsin report shows, Same Day Registration can all but eliminate the need for provisional ballots. Only 135 provisional ballots were cast in the entire state in the 2012 general election, meaning few voters went home with that sick feeling that their vote wouldn’t be counted.