Automatic Voter Registration has bipartisan support in Wisconsin

July 31, 2018

FOR RELEASE: Seventeen candidates running for State Legislature and Governor pledge to enact Automatic Voter Registration in Wisconsin

EAU CLAIRE, WI:  Local candidates across west-central Wisconsin have pledged support to establish a system of automatic voter registration in Wisconsin. Seventeen candidates running for State Assembly, State Senate, and Governor have committed, if elected, to use the powers of their office to support legislation that will modernize Wisconsin’s voter registration system. The measure has received cross-partisan support from Republican, Democratic, and Green party candidates.

Automatic Voter Registration makes simple yet important changes to voter registration. When an eligible citizen interacts with a state agency, such as renewing their driver’s license at the DMV, that agency transfers the citizen’s voter registration information electronically to the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC). The citizen would be instantly registered to vote unless they decline, creating a seamless process that is more convenient and less error-prone for voters and government officials. Twelve states and the District of Columbia have already passed bills that establish Automatic Voter Registration policies.

The grassroots effort for adopting Automatic Voter Registration has been organized by a non-partisan group of volunteers called “Chippewa Valley Votes.” Member volunteers work  one-on-one with local citizens, helping them prepare to vote through registration and education on voter ID requirements.

“Our volunteers have registered hundreds of voters and we’ve seen the look on a voters face when the rules don’t make sense or when they don’t have the exact paperwork they need to register. People are busy and they don’t have time to jump through hoops.” said Karen Voss, a voter registration volunteer with Chippewa Valley Votes, “The way we register voters in Wisconsin is out of date, so it’s no surprise that 1.2 million eligible voting age Wisconsin citizens are not registered to vote. Democracy only works if everyone knows how to make their voice heard. That’s why we need automatic voter registration.”

Wisconsin’s current voter registration system has resulted in wrongful purges of voters from registration lists. In November 2017, the WEC sent 340,000 postcards to registered voters thought to have recently moved. During the February 2018 election, many voters, who may have overlooked the postcards, found their names were deleted from the voter rolls. Afterward, the WEC said 7,000 voters were wrongly purged.

Volunteers at Chippewa Valley Votes believe fixing the way state agencies share residency information would avoid wrongful voter purges in the future and save taxpayer money over the long-term. It could also result in hundreds of thousands of newly registered WI voters.

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Candidates who have pledged their support for automatic voter registration in Wisconsin.

  • Charlene Warner, candidate for 93rd Assembly district
  • Aaron Camacho, candidate for 31st Senate district
  • Jeff Smith, candidate for 31st Senate district
  • Jon W Schultz, candidate for 31st Senate district
  • Jodi Emerson, candidate for 91st Assembly district
  • Eric Larsen, candidate for 91st Assembly district
  • John Calabrese, candidate for 29th Assembly district
  • Wren Keturi, candidate for 67th Assembly district
  • Wendy Sue Johnson, candidate for 68th Assembly district
  • Tony Evers, candidate for Governor
  • Kathleen Vinehout, candidate for Governor
  • Mike McCabe, candidate for Governor
  • Kelda Roys, candidate for Governor
  • Robert Meyer, candidate for Governor
  • Maggie Turnbull, candidate for Governor
  • Josh Pade, candidate for Governor
  • Arnie Enz, candidate for Governor

Candidate Statements:

Automatic voter registration is a vital step in our lives. The present system in Wisconsin does not enhance any aspect of a free, informed voter choice.   Civic engagement is a fundamental right for each and every citizen. We must honor our rights to vote and make this process more accessible.  – Charlene Warner

This was part of my legislation I authored in 2010, AB890, the Voter Protection Act. Every citizen eligible to vote should be automatically registered and other hurdles need to be removed so democracy can work. – Jeff Smith

We need to make it easier, not harder, to vote. We need people to participate. -Eric Larsen

We need to make sure we do everything we can to get voters to the polls. Voting is a right and a privilege we all need to take part in! -Jodi Emerson

I am an enthusiastic supporter of Automatic Voter Registration. I have consistently supported and sponsored legislation that makes voting easier and increases participation by those less likely to vote. I look forward to the day when there will be no artificial barriers to voting. Our democracy will be the stronger for it. -Kathleen Vinehout

AVR is a cheaper and safer way to register eligible voters.  A thriving democracy should work to increase voter participation not stifle it. AVR could inspire many who feel their voting voice does not matter, to get involved in politics beyond the ballot box and that potential should hearten true believers in democracy. -John Calabrese

Our democracy is about one person, one vote.  It is increasingly hard to fulfill that democratic promise.  By passing automatic voter registration in Wisconsin, we can remove a significant barrier to voting, and ensure that all Wisconsin residents can participate in our democracy. -Wren Keturi

As a state legislator, I authored legislation for Automatic Voter Registration with Sen. Dave Hansen. I actually support eliminating voter registration altogether, since it is a remnant of Jim Crow, and having universal adult franchise. That said, AVR would be a good first step towards ensuring greater voting access. -Kelda Roys

To increase voter turnout. -Robert Meyer

The ability and duty to participate in our own government through voting is a defining characteristic of American life.  AVR is a common sense way to ensure that all Wisconsin residents who are eligible to vote, can vote. -Maggie Turnbull

As a plaintiff in the Whitford gerrymandering case, I am committed to fair districts, honest elections, and increasing voter turnout. -Wendy Sue Johnson

As the foundation of our democratic society, voting is a shared value that transcends all identities and beliefs  Automatic Voter Registration for citizens who have the legal right to vote will not just improve our democracy, it’s fundamental to improving our society. -Jon W Schultz

It’s a matter of either believing in democracy or not. If you believe in it, you need to believe in the involvement of all of the people, not just some of the people. We should make it as easy to vote as possible, automatic voter registration is one of the things that can help with that goal. -Arnie Enz

Equitable access to government while encouraging voter turnout is a platform of my campaign. -Josh Pade


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