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The Center for Election Science — General Support (2017)

Organization Name 
Award Date 
Grant Amount 
For general support.
Topic (focus area) 

Grant investigator: Will MacAskill

This page was reviewed but not written by the grant investigator. The Center for Election Science staff also reviewed this page prior to publication.

The Open Philanthropy Project awarded a grant of $628,600 to The Center for Election Science (CES) for general support. CES is a US-based nonprofit that promotes alternative voting methods to plurality voting, with an emphasis on cardinal methods and a special focus on approval voting. Our grant is intended to go toward CES’ general expenses over the next year such as salaries, marketing, office supplies, as well as its Ballot Initiative Education Campaign project.

We see voting system reform as a neglected area with potential to facilitate more qualified candidates, increase competition and reduce hyper-partisanship in elections, and ultimately lead to improved policy decisions. Insofar as other voting systems may be superior to plurality systems, it is because they may better realize a community’s electoral preferences, whatever those may be. These systems provide no structural advantages or disadvantages to either the Democratic or Republican parties or to any single politician. Will MacAskill, the external investigator for this grant, believes there is a strong case that approval voting is the best alternative voting system to campaign for, based both on the mathematical properties of the system and its simplicity.

CES plans to cultivate grassroots supporters to build support for alternative voting system ballot initiatives at the city level. In parallel to this organizing and support building, CES will run a public education campaign on alternative voting systems. If a ballot initiative is secured, CES will conduct further outreach and educational campaigns at the local level.

This grant was recommended by an external investigator, Will MacAskill. External investigators are not full-time staff. Each grant recommended by an external investigator goes through our standard process where the reasoning and recommendation is discussed in detail with Open Philanthropy Project decision-makers. External investigators are prohibited from recommending grants to organizations they are affiliated with.

Update: In October of 2018, we added $30,000 to the original award amount. The “grant amount” above has been updated to reflect this.