Election-day registration considered in Illinois, its end mulled in Wisconsin

Stateline Midwest ~ March 2013

While at least one Midwestern state may adopt same-day voter registration this year, officials in another have said they want to repeal it.

If approved, HB 68 would make Illinois the fourth state in the region to allow voter registration on election day. Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin are among the eight states nationwide that do so already. North Dakota does not require voters to register.

Proponents of same-day registration say it improves turnout and access. Connecticut and California passed laws last year to allow it.

But citing concerns about the administrative burden placed on poll workers, Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker and other lawmakers have advocated getting rid of same-day registration. A report released last month by the state’s Government Accountability Board points out, though, that doing so would force Wisconsin to comply with a federal “motor voter” law, which requires states to offer people voter-registration materials when they obtain driver’s licenses or apply for public assistance. Compliance costs could reach $14.5 million over two years, the report found.

In other Midwestern states, voters must register anywhere from 15 days (in South Dakota) to 30 days (in Michigan and Ohio) in advance. In Nebraska, the registration deadline is the second Friday before the election.