In 2008, Calera, Alabama shifted the boundaries of its voting districts in a way that drastically altered the city's racial geography. Almost immediately, the U.S. Department of Justice wrote that Calera couldn't go through with it. According to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, states with a history of racial discrimination must obtain "preclearance" from the government to make voting-related changes. And in this case, the DOJ flexed its muscles.
That set off a debate from Alabama to Washington about the relevance of Section 5 in the 21st Century. Is voter discrimination based on race a thing of the past? Or should the government still keep watch on those states which have an unpleasant history of racism? Kareem Crayton, associate professor of law at the University of North Carolina, has studied voter polarization.