Civics Essay Contest

Students writing together at a table

Essay Prompts & Requirements

This year’s essay contest theme is civic duty. Eligible students who sign up and complete a shift as a Poll Official on election day should write about their experience working and the importance of performing our civic duty.

Schools can submit up to one (1) essay per eligible student.

Essays must be typed and within the word count limit of 750 words. Titles and works cited (if provided) do not count towards the word count limit.

Schools can submit up to one (1) essay per eligible student. Due to limited positions available, an eligible student sixteen years or older who signs up to be a poll worker but is not selected may still submit an essay on the importance of performing our civic duty.

How to Submit Your Essay:

Online submission opens November 4, 2020. Essays must be submitted by November 25, 2020 online as a Word document or PDF.

If you have any problems submitting your essay or would like to be notified when the online submission becomes available, please contact Brad Parker at or 615-532-0824.

Contest Rules

  1. Schools may submit up to one essay per eligible student.(See eligibility below)
  2. Only one entry per student is allowed.
  3. Essays must be received by the Secretary of State’s office by November 25, 2020. No late entries will be accepted.
  4. Students must be enrolled in a Tennessee public, charter, private school or home school association.
  5. Students must be a Tennessee resident.
  6. Student must be at least 16 years of age AND work as a Poll Official in their county.
  7. The essay must be the original work of the student.
  8. Family members of Tennessee Secretary of State employees are not allowed to participate.
  9. Failure to comply with the contest rules will result in disqualification.

Judging & Prizes

First, second, and third place will be awarded in each category and decided by a panel of judges. Judges may also choose to award honorable mentions. Names and school affiliation will not be revealed to the judges during the judging process. Essays will be judged based on the following: creativity, organization and development of ideas, and response to the questions. Students will receive a scholarship through the TNStars 529 College Savings Program.

Nationally ranked for investment performance, TNStars® is designed to give Tennessee families high quality investment options at a low cost to help them put aside money for higher education expenses. Tennesseans can invest directly with the program and money can be withdrawn tax-free from a TNStars® account as long as it is used for qualified post-secondary education expenses. For more information, click here.

One student from each of Tennessee’s three Grand Divisions will receive the following scholarships:

1st Place: $1000

2nd Place: $500

3rd Place: $250

Winners will be announced later this year. If you have any other questions, please contact us:

(615) 532-0824

Previous Years Winners

2017 Essay Contest Winners

2016 Essay Contest Winners