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Wisconsin OKs electronic docs for voter registration

Wisconsin residents may present electronic documents as part of the voter registration process, state elections officials decided this week.

Under Wisconsin law, voters who register by mail or on Election Day must provide a document at the polls showing proof of residency, such as a utility bill, a tax bill, paycheck or bank statement. The state Government Accountability Board, which oversees state elections, had required those voters to show paper copies of their documents.

The AFL-CIO, the progressive Institute for One Wisconsin and Wisconsin Election Protection, a group affiliated with the American Civil Liberties Union, asked the board to allow voters to print out electronic documents or show poll workers documents on a laptop or smartphone.

The organizations argued electronic documents are beginning to displace paper documents.

“Many individuals, especially those in younger generations, conduct their financial transactions almost exclusively using electronic means,” Rebecca Mason, an attorney for the Institute for One Wisconsin, wrote in her request to the board.

Accountability board attorney Michael Hass wrote in a memo that the board’s staff was reluctant to implement such a change with the presidential election just two months off.

Still, he noted that Wisconsin law recognizes electronic records as written records.

The board voted 6-0 to approve the groups’ requests. The board specified, however, that voters must bring their own electronic devices to the polls. Clerks won’t provide any.

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