America, as we all know, is a deeply divided nation, split along lines of class and race and culture and politics. And in this most polarized time, the two parties are pulling the places where they dominate further apart, creating a red and blue America that can be profoundly different depending on what side of a state line you stand on. In few areas is this more evident than in the way the parties treat the ballot. Consider the following. Yesterday, the Illinois House passed a bill creating automatic voter registration (AVR) in the state, so that when you get a driver’s license or interact with state agencies in other ways, you’re automatically registered to vote. The Republican governor, Bruce Rauner, vetoed a previous version of the bill, but he may end up having no choice in this blue state but to support it, in which case Illinois would join eight other states (plus the District of Columbia) that have created AVR in recent years.
But today, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a case concerning Ohio’s voter purge, in which the Republican secretary of state expelled thousands of voters from the rolls because they hadn’t voted in recent elections; an appeals court had ruled the purge illegal. And meanwhile, in North Carolina, Republicans continue to move aggressively to put obstacles in front of voting despite recent losses at the Supreme Court over both their voter-ID law and their congressional districts, which the court said were drawn with an unconstitutional racial gerrymander.