Think Progress - Two weeks after Barack Obama and Sen.-elect Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) carried the state of Wisconsin with the support of minorities and young voters, Gov. Scott Walker (R) announced one of his major policy proposals for the upcoming session: ending the state’s 40-year old law that allows citizens to register to vote on Election Day.
And with Republicans now back in control of the Wisconsin state legislature, Walker may well get his way next year.
In 2008, Wisconsin enjoyed the second highest turnout of any state in the nation (72 percent of eligible voters cast a ballot), due largely to the fact the Badger State law allows residents who aren’t registered or have recently moved to register at the polls. That year, approximately 460,000 people used Election Day Registration, 15 percent of all Wisconsinites who cast a ballot.
Wisconsin was the first state to enact Election Day Registration in 1971, followed soon by states like Minnesota and Maine. Today, eleven states have laws allowing citizens to register at the polls. These states enjoy the highest turnout in the nation not by chance, but because Election Day Registration boosts turnout by 7 to 14 percentage points. In addition, studies show that minorities, poorer voters, and students benefit the most from being permitted to register on Election Day.