In 1976 the basis of our current voter registration system was established. Legislation passed included this clause: “The Legislature finds that the vote is the single most critical act in our democratic system of government; that voter registration was not intended to and should not prevent voting...”
That law established a system of voter registration that avoided extra burdens if the voter registered in advance. Residency is verified by a mailing from the election administrator. With this system in place, Wisconsin has consistently been in the top two states in voter turnout.
On Feb. 20 the Assembly passed an amended version of Senate Bill 267. If passed by the Senate, it may be as significant a barrier to voting as the photo ID requirements. It would drastically change the registration process conducted more than 20 days before the election by requiring proof of residence even during this period.
The League of Women Voters is urging defeat of this bill, stating it would affect anyone who does not have a document such as a utility bill, rental lease or bank statement with their own name and voting address on it.
-- Paul Malischke, Madison, spokesman for Fair Elections Wisconsin