Currently, seventy-seven million Americans aren’t on the voter rolls. To put this in perspective, there are so many unregistered voters in the United States that they exceed the total combined population of the largest one hundred cities in America—from New York City to Birmingham—by nearly sixteen million people. 

  • Carol Anderson, One Person, No Vote (p. 155).

One Person, No Vote Deliberation 

With support from the Lucas Family Foundation, Barkley Forum for Debate, Deliberation, and Dialogue, Emory’s Center for Civic and Community Engagement (CCE), and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights (NCCHR) cordially invites you to an intercollegiate deliberation on the protection of voting rights in the United States.                 

One Person, No Vote Deliberation will take place at the NCCHR on Saturday, November 9, 2019 and the new Emory Student Center on Sunday, November 10, 2019. We can accommodate up to 12 schools. Each participating school may enter one team that consists of 2-4 students.  All the team members are expected to participate in each of their school’s presentations. Student presentations will be evaluated by a combination of attending coaches and Atlanta area voting rights advocates. 

We look forward to providing participants a curated tour of National Center for Civil and Human Rights focusing on the history of voting rights suppression and protection in the US. Students will use the center’s world-renowned resources to contextualize contemporary concerns related voter suppression and inspire the development of new strategies for securing the right to vote.

Topic Background Information

In South Carolina v. Katzenbach (1966), Supreme Court justices, in an 8–1 decision, reaffirmed both the constitutionality and the need for the federal legislation to protect the right to vote. The Court found that “The Voting Rights Act (VRA) was designed by Congress to banish the blight of racial discrimination in voting, which has infected the electoral process in parts of our country for nearly a century. Congress felt itself confronted by an insidious and pervasive evil which had been perpetuated in certain parts of our country through unremitting and ingenious defiance of the Constitution.” Many scholars credit the upswing in Black voter registration and election participation in the 80s and 90s to the protections provided by the VRA. Unfortunately, that success was not enough to thwart continued challenges including a landmark Supreme Court decision in 2013 that dismantled significant portions of the VRA. 

In One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression Is Destroying Our Democracy, Carol Anderson, Emory University’s Chair of African American Studies, interrogated the justifications used by the Roberts Court in Shelby County v. Holder (2013). Anderson concluded that the Court’s decision to overturn the key provisions of the VRA that required preclearance of new election laws in states with a history of voter discrimination has made it far more difficult for a significant number of Americans to exercise their fundamental right to vote.  From her perspective, the Shelby County decision rested on three concerning arguments.

  1. Progress had made the VRA’s preclearance mechanism unnecessary.
  2. VRA unjustly targeted the South.
  3. Voter fraud was a more significant voting rights concern. 

An investigation of the above three arguments that undergirded the Shelby County decision will serve as the cornerstone of the One Person, No Vote Deliberation.

Run of the Show

NCCHR History Tour (9a-11:30a) – On Saturday morning, student participants and their accompanying coaches will tour of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. The tour guide will focus on the movement to gain and protect voting rights in the United States. Students are expected to incorporate information gained during the tour into their presentations.  

Lunch (11:30a-1p) – Extended working lunch.  

NCCHR Public Deliberation (1p-5p) - After lunch, each school will deliver an 8-minute public presentation in the public atrium of NCCHR. The presentations will potentially be seen by the other NCCHR visitors from 1p to 5p. You should expect an audience. Participants should provide a research-based response to the Shelby County decision. Additionally, the presentation should incorporate some of information acquired during the tour the center. Finally, teams should advocate a policy change that resolves a contemporary manifestation of voter suppression. Each presentation will be followed by a 5 min period of cross examination by other participants. Presentation order will be determined by a draw.

 Breakfast (9a-10a) – Breakfast and an opportunity to engage leaders working to secure voting rights. 

Reflective Response (10a-12p)– After breakfast at Emory Student Center, each school will deliver a 6-minute presentation that reflects on the NCCHR Public Deliberation and incorporates arguments presented by other schools during the deliberation. An effective and compelling reflective response will incorporate arguments, ideas, and/or strategies presented by the other participants and information obtained during the NCCHR tour to support the recommended policy change presented during the NCCHR Public Deliberation. Presentation order will be determined by a draw. 

Awards Ceremony (12p-12:30p)– We will recognize the following exemplary performances.

  1. Best use of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights as an argumentative resource.
  2. Best research-based presentations during NCCHR Public Deliberation.
  3. Successful incorporation of the other participants arguments in a reflective response.
  4. Student recognition of individual participants.

How to Enter

Email Ed Lee III at to enter the One Person, No Vote Deliberation. Please provide the names of each student participant and coach attending the event. Additionally, please provide information about any dietary restrictions. Please enter by October 18, 2019. 

We are excited to have you join us Atlanta. Please contact Ed Lee if you have any questions.