On March 25, four student teams (plus their advisors) from three member institutions – NC Central University, UNC-Chapel Hill (two teams), and William Peace University spent seven hours – on a Saturday! – exploring how to ensure trustworthy elections. This was the inaugural Redesigning Democracy Competition (RDC). The competition is designed to bring together students, ideally from across the political spectrum, to deliberate on topics related to democracy that are either contested or in need of reform and intervention and to find common ground for action. RDC is an opportunity for students to engage in and practice the skills and habits of citizenship. The event was hosted on the lovely campus of William Peace University.
The event began with a four-hour interactive Common Ground Workshop on Ensuring Trustworthy Elections facilitated by members of the Braver Angels Alliance of Central North Carolina (BAACNC). Started in 2016, Braver Angels (BA) is a national organization that is working to depolarize American by building new ways to talk to one another, participate in public life, and influence the direction of our nation. This Common Ground workshop is part of the BA national Trustworthy Elections Campaign. BA is hosting a series of Common Ground Workshops across the country bring together individuals across the political spectrum to look for common-ground ideas for establishing trustworthy elections. Our session is the first workshop that exclusively involves college students.
After the workshop, each campus team had an hour and 15 minutes to develop a presentation proposing their idea for how to address the issue. The students proposed innovative and impactful ideas including: creating a “clear intent” ballot curing policy, limiting corporate political involement, promoting more civic education in middle and high school, and promoting government funded election engagement including developing a nationwide voter registration and voter education education week after the 4th of July.
A panel of judges from the BAACNC, scored the presentations and selected two teams to win the top prizes (a $500 cash prize to the campus and $100 Amazon gift cards for each student team member). The other two teams will receive a $150 cash prize plus $10 Amazon gift cards for each team member. Funding is provided by the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation.
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