APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV) - Republican lawmakers in Madison are working on a bill that would end same-day voter registration, but a new report shows just how costly that would be.
A preliminary report just out from the Government Accountability Board finds the law change would cost the state about $5.2 million over the first two years and almost $2 million every two years after. That's due to increased costs to maintain voter lists, upgrade computer systems, extra training and voter outreach campaigns.
All of this has some local clerks concerned.
Election day registration is a popular option in the city of Appleton.
"This last election, we had a high turnout, 88% turnout," explained Char Peterson, Appleton City Clerk. "We had 4,505 people that registered to vote on election day ."
Peterson is worried ending election day registration would drastically increase the number of provisional ballots cast. Those are ballots not counted on election day because clerks need to verify the voter is indeed registered.
Peterson said in the last two presidential elections, Wisconsin saw fewer than 200 provisional ballots.
"When you compare some of the numbers from other states that do not have election day registration, they have thousands and thousands of them," Peterson said, "That then takes a lot of staff time to process those afterwards which would then be an added cost."
Also the state would have to comply with a federal law allowing residents to register to vote at other state agencies, such as DNV's and Health and Human Services offices. Currently, Wisconsin is exempt from that law.
"Then they have to forward that to us and it would be a burden on us if it's not complete," Peterson added. "We would reach out to find those people, get that info and if it's not obtained by the time poll books are printed, they may not be on the poll book and then they would not be able to vote."
The bill is still a work in progress and needs to be approved by the legislature.