Dane Co. Executive, County Clerk-Elect, Announce County-Wide Referendum on Same-Day Registration

Posted Wednesday, December 5, 2012 --- 1:11 p.m.

Press Release from the Office of the Dane Co. Executive:

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi and County Clerk-Elect Scott McDonell today announced plans for the addition of a county-wide referendum on the April 2013 general election ballot to allow Dane County voters to voice their opinion on the potential elimination of their right to register and vote on election days.

The referendum is being requested as state leaders express support for doing away with Wisconsin’s same-day registration law that has been in place since 1976. In the November 2nd 2010 election, more than a quarter of a million Wisconsin voters (230,330) and 38,063 Dane County voters exercised their right to register and vote on Election Day.

“Dane County’s nearly 85% turnout in last month’s election was among the best not only in the entire state but also the nation,” said Parisi. “As former Dane County Clerk, I worked hard to increase accessibility, transparency and participation in our democratic process. Now is not the time to compromise the success we have experienced in engaging more people in that process. Dane County voters deserve a chance to have their voice heard on this extreme change to voter rights.”

“Our hard working municipal clerks and poll workers sacrifice their time and energy to protect the constitutional right to vote,” said County Clerk-Elect McDonell. “Any attempts to suppress turnout for partisan advantage undermines our state’s covenant between the people and those who wish to govern, and is an insult to those who choose to serve as poll workers.”

McDonell added that on average between 10-15% of the electorate registers to vote on election day. That number mirrors the higher turnout seen in Wisconsin compared to states that do not provide same day voter registration.

A resolution adopting the advisory referendum for the April 2nd, 2013 ballot will be introduced for consideration by the Dane County Board at their Thursday meeting. Pending approval by the Dane County Board, residents would be able to weigh in on the question of “Should the state of Wisconsin continue to allow people to register to vote at the polls on Election Day?” Full text of the resolution can be found below.

Wisconsin has had a rich tradition of open and accessible democracy. The state experienced it’s highest voter turnout in state history in the November 2012 election and consistently ranks among the highest turnout states in the nation.

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Resolution Text:

RES. 12-13
ADVISORY REFERENDUM ON SAME DAY VOTER REGISTRATION

Dane County and the State of Wisconsin have rich traditions of open and accessible democracy and have taken great lengths to promote citizen participation in their democracy. Dane County’s turnout in the November, 2012 election reached nearly 85% of eligible voters, one of the highest in the entire state and country. Wisconsin experienced its highest voter turnout in state history in the November 2012 election when 3,071,434 votes were cast reflecting a 70.14% statewide turnout, the highest percentage since 1948.

States that allow same day voter registration consistently see voter turnout and participation at 10-12% higher than states where it is not allowed. Wisconsin has allowed same day voter registration since 1976 and over a quarter of a million Wisconsin voters (230,330), and 38,063 Dane County voters, participated in their democracy in the November 2, 2010 elections by registering to vote on Election Day.

Election clerks strongly support the ability of voters to register to vote at the polls and have not reported any problems from this long standing practice.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Dane County Board of Supervisors places the following advisory referendum on the ballot for the April 2, 2013 election:

“Should the state of Wisconsin continue to allow people to register to vote at the polls on Election Day?”

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the Dane County Clerk shall take all necessary steps to implement this resolution.


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