The Electoral Reform Society in the United Kingdom is running an international essay competition on democracy, with some decent prizes and interesting judges. Apparently it's already generated good number of participants from both the US and Canada. See more at:
The competition is for anyone in full-0time education, and organizers are keen on overseas entrants. The top prize is about $1,400. The deadline is March 30th.
For those of you who aren't full-fledged voting method geeks, Thomas Hare was the originator of the single transferable vote method of proportional representation. John Stuart Mill was fully persuaded by his proposals and took them to a broad audience in his powerful Considerations on Representative Government.