Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

One Person, No Vote? A Conversation with Carol Anderson

6:30 pm 8:00 PM
Graham Tyler Memorial Chapel, Park University

One Person, No Vote? A Conversation with Carol Anderson

6:30 pm 8:00 PM
Graham Tyler Memorial Chapel, Park University

In her new book, One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression is Destroying Our Democracy (long-listed for the 2018 National Book Award for Nonfiction!), Carol Anderson chronicles the rollbacks to African American participation in the vote since the 2013 Supreme Court decision Shelby County v. Holder. Anderson argues that Shelby eviscerated the Voting Rights Act of 1965, effectively allowing districts with a demonstrated history of racial discrimination to change voting requirements without approval from the Department of Justice.

At “One Person, No Vote? A Conversation With Carol Anderson,” Michelle Tyrene Johnson, KCUR’s race, identity, and culture reporter, moderated a discussion with Professor Carol Anderson about voter suppression. We took questions from the audience, and as with other American Public Square programs, fact checkers were on hand, and civility bells ensured that things didn’t get too heated during this important discussion.

Prof. Carol Anderson is the Charles Howard Candler Professor and Chair of African American Studies at Emory University. She is the author of the New York Times bestseller White Rage, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award, Bourgeois Radicals, and Eyes off the Prize. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia. Anderson taught history at the University of Missouri from 1996 to 2008.  She was awarded the William T. Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence in 2001.

In her new book, One Person, No Vote, she focuses on the aftermath of Shelby Co. v. Holder, mapping out a story of government-dictated racial discrimination as more and more states adopt voter suppression laws. She explains how voter suppression works, from photo ID requirements to gerrymandering to poll closures, exploring the resistance: the organizing, activism, and court battles to restore the basic right to vote to all Americans as the nation gears up for the 2018 midterm elections.





Thanks to support from the William T. Kemper Foundation, we prepared facts and statistics about voting numbers and claims of voter suppression and voter fraud.

The FACT SHEET is compiled by professional research librarians. The librarians also collect suggested readings on the subject. We encourage you to read the articles before attending “One Person, No Vote? A Conversation With Carol Anderson.”

Voting Rights Laws

Voting Rights Act of 1965

This act was a response to the injustices, obstacles and discrimination, along racial lines, to voting in certain states.

  • Section 2 of the Act prohibits literacy tests for voting.
  • Section 4 of the Act lays out a formula for identifying jurisdictions that have “potential for discrimination” based on past history. The act provides for the appointment of Federal examiners in those jurisdictions. The “covered jurisdictions” are the states of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia, as well as some counties and townships in other states. Source
  • Section 5 of the act requires any changes to voting procedures in covered jurisdictions receive “preclearance” from either the District Court for the District of Columbia or the U.S. Attorney General. It is not meant to be in effect forever, but requires congressional reauthorization.
  • Sections 4 and 5 guarantee the enforcement of the 14th and 15th amendments.

National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA)

Signed by President Clinton “as a way to make it easier for all Americans to register to vote by allowing people to sign up at the DMV.” This applies to 44 states and the District of Columbia. Source

Shelby County v. Holder 133 S. Ct. 2612 (2013)

The Supreme Court decision that overturned Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act (the federal “preclearance” provision) and subsequently nullified Section 5. This provision applied extra oversight for jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination in voting. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote, “voting discrimination still exists: no one doubts that.” “The effect of the Shelby County decision is that the jurisdictions identified by the coverage formula in Section 4(b) no longer need to seek preclearance for the new voting changes, unless they are covered by a separate court order entered under Section 3(c) of the Voting Rights Act.” Source

Suppression? How?

Voter Purges

“Ahead of upcoming midterm elections, a new Brennan Center investigation has examined data for more than 6,600 jurisdictions that report purge rates to the Election Assistance Commission and calculated purge rates for 49 states.

We found that between 2014 and 2016, states removed almost 16 million voters from the rolls, and every state in the country can and should do more to protect voters from improper purges.

Almost 4 million more names were purged from the rolls between 2014 and 2016 than between 2006 and 2008. This growth in the number of removed voters represented an increase of 33 percent — far outstripping growth in both total registered voters (18 percent) and total population (6 percent).” Source


“Proponents claim that ID laws are necessary to reduce fraud and to restore trust in the democratic system. Critics claim that voter ID laws serve as effective barriers that limit the legitimate participation of racial and ethnic minorities and other disadvantaged groups.” Source

“In 2017, at least 99 bills that restrict access to registration and voting were introduced in 31 states. Thirty-two states have some form of voter ID law currently in effect. These ID laws don’t affect all people equally: people of color, low-income people, the elderly, students, and people with disabilities disproportionately lack the types of IDs that states deem acceptable.” Source

Shorter Voting Periods

“‘North Carolina in 2013 enacted a set of election measures dubbed the ‘monster’ law that shortened early voting and eliminated same-day registration.’” The law was voided by a Federal Appeals Court as discriminatory.” Source

Fewer Polling Places

“Local officials across the country shuttered 868 polling places in the three years after the Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling. Source

“Some voters in Barton County, Kansas, now will have to drive 18 miles to vote in November’s election because of polling place consolidation. In the past three decades, the county has gone from 40 polling places to 11. The main reason, said County Clerk Donna Zimmerman, is cost.” Source

Redistricting (Gerrymandering)

“Traditionally, state legislatures have been responsible for redistricting for state legislative and congressional districts. Some states, however, use a redistricting commission to draw the district lines, and others have bills to create commissions.” Source

What About Voter Fraud?

“President Trump shut the Presidential Advisory Committee on Election Integrity charged with investigating voter fraud.  No real evidence of fraud in the American election system was found.” Source

In the Kansas voter fraud lawsuit brought against Secretary of State Kris Kobach, findings showed “only 43 non-citizens out of 1.8 million Kansas voters had registered to vote in the state since 1999. Just 11 of those actually cast a ballot, and [Judge] Robinson found those were ‘largely explained by administrative error, confusion, or mistake.’” Source

“Critics of photo voter ID laws additionally and routinely claim that vote fraud does not exist and swiftly dismiss documented cases of such fraud as irrelevant. It’s hard to explain this thinking, especially when, in North Carolina, more than five hundred illegal votes were cast in the 2016 election, and in Kansas, nine individuals were convicted of voting in multiple states. What do the critics have to say about these documented cases of vote fraud? They say they’re insignificant.” Source

Suggested Reading

“Gerrymandering,” (2018). RepresentUs

“In states with strict ID laws, that gap grows to a substantial 13.2 points. The gap between white turnout and Asian American and African American turnout also increases. Because minority voters tend to be Democrats, strict voter ID laws tilt the primary electorate dramatically.”

“All else equal, when strict ID laws are instituted, the turnout gap between Republicans and Democrats in primary contests more than doubles from 4.3 points to 9.8 points. Likewise, the turnout gap between conservative and liberal voters more than doubles from 7.7 to 20.4 points.”

“By instituting strict voter ID laws, states can alter the electorate and shift outcomes toward those on the right. Where these laws are enacted, the influence of Democrats and liberals wanes and the power of Republicans grows. Unsurprisingly, these strict ID laws are passed almost exclusively by Republican legislatures.”  Source