Scott Walker Won't End Same-Day Voter Registration In Wisconsin

In this April 17, 2012, photo Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks to the Illinois Chamber of Commerce in Springfield, Ill. An
In this April 17, 2012, photo Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks to the Illinois Chamber of Commerce in Springfield, Ill. An analysis of data by The Associated Press shows Walker quietly reinstated a program to give merit raises and bonuses to over 200 state workers even as he preached cost-cutting and pushed through a law reducing most public workers' pay and eliminating their union rights. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) has announced he will not end same-day voter registration in the state, after a report concluded it would cost $5.2 million to do so.

"There is no way I'm signing a bill that costs that kind of money," Walker told reporters on Wednesday, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

The announcement is a sharp reversal for Walker. In a Nov. 16 speech, he called for the repeal of the state's same-day registration law, which has been in place since 1976 and is often credited with boosting voter turnout.

"States across the country that have same-day registration have real problems because the vast majority of their states have poll workers who are wonderful volunteers, who work 13-hour days and who in most cases are retirees," he said at the time. "It's difficult for them to handle the volume of people who come at the last minute. It'd be much better if registration was done in advance of election day. It'd be easier for our clerks to handle that. All that needs to be done."

But poll workers and county clerks disputed Walker's assessment. Opponents of ending same-day registration said doing so would amount to voter suppression.

By early December, after facing criticism for his stance, Walker was calling the whole issue "ridiculous" and saying it created a distraction from job creation. Reports also surfaced that Walker's son registered at the polls on the day of the most recent election -- accompanied by the governor.

The report released on Tuesday by the Government Accountability Board, which oversees Wisconsin's elections, found that not only would eliminating same-day registration be costly, but it wouldn't reduce the workload of clerks, as Walker claimed.

Walker told reporters on Wednesday that he was not flip-flopping on same-day registration, but he was cognizant of the strong passions surrounding the issue and wanted to avoid more divisiveness in the state.

"I don't want anything out there that creates uncertainty," he said. "To me another battle like this creates that kind of uncertainty."

UPDATE: 12/13, 12:00 p.m. -- State Rep. Jon Richards (D-Milwaukee) told the Wisconsin State Journal on Wednesday that Walker hasn't completely "shut the door" on ending same-day registration, questioning whether the governor would support repeal if it was less expensive than the GAB estimate. He called on him to promise to veto any such bill.

Walker, however, said such an announcement would be premature.

"The Legislature hasn't event started. I'm not issuing vetoes on anything yet," Walker said. "I'm pointing out I'm not supporting a bill that would spend millions of dollars on something like that. I'm trying to save money, not spend money."

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