Elections Contest Frequently Asked Questions

I want to send my message to the next U.S. president and Congress, but I’m having trouble…


Where do I send my submission?

Fill out the online registration form with your essay attached or a link to your video.

How should I submit my video?

We strongly prefer that you upload your video to YouTube or similar site and send us a link to it. If this is not possible, email us at spusa@spusa.org to discuss alternatives.

May I used copyrighted material in my video?

Absolutely not. Please double check the copyright on any music or images you wish to use in your video. Make sure you have permission to use any material that is not your own and give credit to the author. We suggest Wikipedia for un-copyrighted images and doing a google search for 'royalty-free music'. Please note that attributing the copyrighted material is NOT sufficient. For example, you may not use Billy Joel's song "We Didn't Start the Fire" even if you attribute it. Because this song is copyrighted you cannot use it without the publisher's permission.  Any entry that does not follow these guidelines will be automatically ineligible. 

Do you accept submissions by mail?

Unfortunately, we are unable to accept direct mail submissions. Please submit your entry through our online form.

Do I have to submit an essay and video or choose just one?

Please choose just one format for your submission: either essay or video. We strongly encourage video submissions.

I submitted by entry, but did not hear back. What should I do?

Please note that you will not receive an automated response when you submit your entry. You will receive a confirmation email from spusa(at)spusa.org within four business days. If you do not hear back, please resubmit your entry. Please make sure that your spam filter accepts mail from spusa(at)spusa.org in order to receive important communications regarding the contest.

I’m under 18. Do I need my parent or guardian’s permission to participate?


May I co-submit an entry with another person?

In order to keep the playing field level, we are not accepting co-submitted entries. However, there is no rule preventing you from collaborating in the drafting process. We encourage both interested individuals to submit their own entries.

Do you accept entries from international students?

Due to logistical difficulties, we are only able to accept entries from U.S. citizens. Thank you for your understanding.


Will you accept submissions that exceed the word/ length limits?

No- we are strictly adhering to these limits so that no contestant is at a disadvantage. Citations and titles will not be included in the word count.

I’m not sure if the topic I want to write about is relevant to the contest. What should I write about?

Your message should address a science, technology, or energy issue. For ideas, please browse through the topics in our election guide (see above) and on Student Pugwash’s website. HIV/AIDS, nuclear power, renewable energy, and climate change are just a few examples of relevant topics. The state of the economy, child abuse, illegal immigration, and welfare reform, while all very important issues, are not relevant to this contest. Some issues, such as education, are only relevant if you tie them into science, technology, or energy. If you’re still not sure, you may email us at spusa(at)spusa.org with the subject line ‘election contest.’

May I address more than one topic?

There is no particular rule against addressing more than one topic; however, it is not recommended. Please bear in mind that you have a very limited amount of space in which to send a well thought-out message to the next president and Congress.

May I reuse an essay, video, or recording that I have made for a different purpose?

We encourage you to draw upon your background knowledge for the contest; however, pieces that do not directly address the contest theme are ineligible. We will not be accepting submissions that have been used in another contest or will be submitted to another contest.

What about citing the sources I use?

You must cite the sources you use. Endnotes are best, but any format that would be acceptable for class is likely acceptable here. Citations will not be included in the 750-word limit. Plagiarism will not be tolerated.

How will entries be judged?

Entries will be judged by a panel of experts based on content (including well thought-out ideas (30%), relevance to the contest theme (30%), presentation (including grammar and structure) (20%), and creativity (20%). Our panel of judges will be announced soon!

My question still hasn’t been answered. What should I do?

Please refer to the contest guidelines and rules. If you still do not find the answer to your question, you may send an email to spusa(at)spusa.org, subject line ‘election contest.’