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Warren Wilson Team Wins Second Place in the 2024 Redesigning Democracy Competition

Three Warren Wilson students took second place in the second annual Redesigning Democracy Competition at Greensboro College, sponsored by NC Campus Engagement. The Warren Wilson team was among nine student teams, hailing from five campuses (some campuses, including Warren Wilson, brought more than one team).

The Redesigning Democracy Competition (RDC) brings together students 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. Teams spent a total of eight hours competing to design a solution to one of democracy’s most pressing challenges.

This year, the challenge was “fair elections,” where students were asked to consider how elections could be restructured to give each vote and voice the same power.

The competition began with a series of “Democracy Talks,” where experts in the fields of voting and elections prompted teams to explore how specific aspects of our electoral structures promote unfair elections. Guest speakers included Dr. Martha Kropf, Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at UNC Charlotte, Dr. Michael Bitzer, Leonard Chair of Political Science and Politics Department Chair at Catawba College, and Tyler Daye, Policy and Civic Engagement Manager at Common Cause NC. During the “Democracy Talks,” students learned about the effects of gerrymandering, voting systems, single-member electoral districts, and the electoral college.

After considering these elements of elections, students engaged in a dialogue on the topic of fair elections. The dialogue used was modified from a Living Room Conversations Conversation Guide. Over the course of the dialogue, students discussed their individual stories and experiences through prompts relating to democratic ideals, their belief in whether their vote truly counts, and personal concerns and experiences with the effects of unfair elections on the state of democracy.

Each campus team then had just one hour to develop a presentation proposing their idea for how to address the challenge of making elections more fair. Warren Wilson Team 1, the second-place winner, presented a solution that focussed on reducing the role of money in politics. Specifically, they argued that mandating equal screen/ad time for all qualified political candidates and PACs/Interest Groups, as well as overturning the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. FEC, would help promote more fairness in elections.

A panel of seven judges scored the presentations and selected winners. Judges included experts as well as volunteers from the Braver Angels Alliance of Central North Carolina.

Warren Wilson Team 1 won a $250 cash prize to support civic engagement efforts at Warren Wilson College. Each student on the team won a $25 Amazon gift card. Funding was provided by the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation.

UNC-Chapel Hill Team 2 came in first place, and NC Central University Team 2 came in third place.

The members of the Second-Place Team from Warren Wilson were:

Taelyn Reid (Advisor)

Bonner Program & AmeriCorps Supervisor


Syd Johnson, Junior



Emma Wrzeszcz, Sophomore



Jocelyn Duncan, Freshman