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On National Voter Registration Day, Wisconisn gets closer to automatic voter registration

Tuesday, the Milwaukee Common Council unanimously approved a legislative package to recommend automatic voter registration for the State of Wisconsin, which was fitting on the same day as National Voter Registration Day.

The new system would make all eligible voters automatically registered with the choice to opt out, instead of the current practice where voters have to opt in. It would give voters the option to use an electronic voter identification on their mobile phones at the polls.

With voter ID laws and a voter registration process that can be discouraging, it's no wonder that Mayor Tom Barrett reported earlier this year that only around 57 percent of eligible voters are actually registered in Wisconsin.

This new policy for universal voter registration would eliminate those challenges and likely increase voter turnout dramatically.

Pre-registration policies like this are already practiced in 13 other states, where the data shows that automatic voter registration has had limited to no fiscal impact while directly impacting voter participation.

Neil Albrecht, the executive director of the Milwaukee Election Commission, said, “It

would streamline everything. It would be a much more efficient and cost effective process for the City.”

Also included in the legislative package approved Tuesday is a measure that will soon require the Mayor's education programs, City employees and all community-based organizations who receive City of Milwaukee grants to provide voter registration information to the people they serve.

The third measure on the legislation urges Milwaukee Public Schools to start pre-registering all students who are 18 years of age and older to vote while the students are still in school and prior to graduation.

Cavalier Johnson, Ashanti Hamilton, Chantia Lewis, Milele Coggs, Michael Murphy, Russell Stamper II and Khalif Rainey co-sponsored some or all of these resolutions.

Though the automatic voter registration proposal passed in Milwaukee's Common Council, it still needs approval from the State of Wisconsin. (So you still need to register to vote for November's election. You can do that here.)