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“It would be quite a hurdle to overcome,” said Mary Spain, a senior attorney with Virginia’s Division of Legislative Services.

Mr. Hebert agreed but said that if the state were interested in expanding the scope of exemptions, officials would be better off targeting counties within Virginia that are virtually assured to be granted a bailout and seeking them on their behalf.

With Alaska and Arizona the exceptions, the other seven states covered as a whole under the law are all in the South. No states have been granted a bailout. Texas in March asked a three-judge panel to allow the state to challenge Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act as unconstitutional after the Justice Department objected to a state law requiring photo identification at the polls.

Covered counties and townships span from coast to coast: They include jurisdictions in California, Florida, New York, North Carolina, South Dakota, Michigan, and New Hampshire.

Mr. Hebert said he is currently working on an exemption case for New Hampshire.

Under the law passed in 1965, if a state had a literacy test or poll tax and if turnout or the number of registered voters among the voting-age population was lower than 50 percent in the 1964 presidential election, a state or jurisdiction would become subject to pre-clearance.

In 1970, when the law was renewed, federal officials looked at turnout in the 1968 elections. Since New Hampshire still had a literacy test in place and the turnout was below 50 percent in a handful of jurisdictions, those localities in the Granite State became subject to Section 5.