Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act is, indisputably, an unusual piece of legislation. It does not apply, as the rest of the law does, to the whole country. Rather, it requires nine southern states and parts of another (40 of North Carolina’s 100 counties) to submit any change in voting procedure, from redistricting an entire state to moving a single polling place from one location to another, for “preclearance” by the Department of Justice or a three-judge federal court in Washington.
But is it constitutional? Maybe not.