2020 Student Essay Contest

2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution, extending the right to vote to women and expanding on the principle of equality.

What barriers remain today in exercising the right to vote?

What changes, if any, would you make to protect or expand voting rights?


*The deadline for entries has been extended to June 1, 2020*

Who May Enter

The essay contest is open to all students currently in grades 9 through 12 from Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia.
Note: Children, grandchildren, stepchildren, and members of the household of a federal judge or federal judiciary employee are excluded from the competition.

Essay Question

The prompt for the 2020 Essay Contest is "What barriers remain today in exercising the right to vote? What changes, if any, would you make to protect or expand voting rights?"

Length & Format

Essays are limited to 1000 words. Citations should be placed in footnotes, endnotes, or bibliographies and excluded from the word count. Submit your essay as a Microsoft Word or Adobe Acrobat PDF document. Do not include your name on your essay.

Submission Deadline

The deadline has been extended. Your essay and entry form must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. on Monday, June 1, 2020. The contest entry form includes instructions for submitting your essay. Submit your entry form after completing your essay.

Judging

  • Understanding of constitutional principles (30 points)
  • Clarity and effectiveness in expressing the theme (30 points)
  • Grammar, spelling, and composition (20 points)
  • Originality (20 points)

Missing the submission deadline, providing false entry information, not adhering to the rules, and plagiarizing content are grounds for disqualification.

Awards

Winners will be announced in July, and travel will be provided to the court's Essay Awards Program in September 2020.

Download Contest Flyer


First Prize

$2,000

Second Prize

$1,500

Third Prize

$1,000

Awards

Winners will be announced in July, and travel will be provided to the court's Essay Awards Program in September 2020.

First Prize

$2,000

Second Prize

$1,500

Third Prize

$1,000


Download Contest Flyer


Questions

Contact the Fourth Circuit Clerk's Office at essaycontest@ca4.uscourts.gov or (804) 916-2706.