Every state is preparing to open a health insurance exchange by Oct. 1. Whether these new agencies will offer voter registration as well as health care information is emerging as a potential fault line that could further divide states from one another and from Washington.
The Obama administration and voting rights advocates say there's no question the agencies must offer voter registration under federal law. But Republicans in Congress and in some states are pushing back, and even some election law experts aren't so sure the question has an easy answer.
So far, just three states have officially said they'll link the exchanges and voter registration. But whether the rest will – or will be required to under federal law – is an open question that will likely lead to court battles and at least a temporary patchwork approach nationwide.