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Wisconsin's Walker eyes new barriers to voting

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After Republican policymakers nationwide imposed the most sweeping voting restrictions since the Jim Crow era, GOP officials saw the election results, realized that the restrictions didn't produce the desired effect, and decided it's time to end the "war on voting."

No, I'm just kidding. Actually, some of the same officials who wanted new restrictions in advance of 2012 are now looking to expand the barriers between voters and their democracy in the future. Take developments in Wisconsin, for example.

Gov. Scott Walker has joined one of the Legislature's most powerful Republicans in saying he's considering ending the state's same-day voter registration law, drawing quick criticism from leading Democrats, including Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

The idea was part of the agenda that Walker put forward Friday in an appearance before a sold-out crowd at the Ronald Reagan Library and Museum near Los Angeles, a traditional venue for Republicans looking to run for president.

For nearly four decades, Wisconsin has allowed voters to register at their voting precinct on Election Day. The results have been terrific -- the state has one of the highest voting rates in the nation. This year, voting rates in Milwaukee, for example, reached a stunning 87 percent.

Why would Wisconsin's governor and leading state GOP lawmakers want to scale back a system that's worked so well? According to Walker, the state has "poll workers who are wonderful volunteers, who work 13-hour days and who in most cases are retirees." He added, "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."

Yes, the governor of Wisconsin wants to scrap same-day registration because he feels bad for county clerks and elderly volunteers. Riiiiiight. I'm sure that's the only reason Walker, who also pushed a destructive voter-ID scheme that was blocked by the courts, supports this change.

For some reason, Walker's critics are skeptical. Andrea Kaminski, executive director of the League of Women Voters in Wisconsin, told the state AP, "Given that there have been few problems related to election-day registration, this looks like another effort to fix a problem that doesn't exist and to do it in a way that makes it harder for people to vote. She added that same-day registration "has not been a big problem in the past -- and I don't think it was on November 6, either."