Center for Election Science is looking for Board Members


Hey Folks,

Article here:

Looking to change the world?

We had a big year in 2018 with our successful campaign that made Fargo the first city in the US to implement approval voting. We want to bring approval voting to even more cities in 2019 and beyond, and we need a strong board to be able to do it!

Are you interested in helping us fundamentally change the way voting methods work? Are you ready to make an enormous impact in people’s lives? There’s no better way to dedicate your time and resources than with us.

Interested? Contact us and learn more. Know someone who’d be a good fit? Send them this blog post!

What does being a board member involve?

Here are some of the core responsibilities:

Time: ~10 hours/month
Give/Get: Total $3K+ annually with a minimum of $500 for the give and fundraising each
Network: Willingness to leverage personal network to benefit CES
Expertise: Bring expertise that can benefit the organization’s goals
Meetings: Contribute to quarterly virtual board meetings and meetings for your committee

Other positives:

Cause: You helping to change the voting method is one of the most high-impact causes there is.
Revolutionary: Your advancement of our work means making new strides and fundamentally changing how elections run.
Community: Get opportunities for you to meet with key people in the front lines of election reform.
Philanthropy: Feed your need to effectively make a positive impact.
Career: Let future employers know that you’re the type of person who gives back.

If that sounds exciting, I encourage you to give this essay a read on what it takes to be a great board member. You can also find documents related to questions you should be thinking on our transparency page.

Interested in joining our team? Know someone who’d be a good fit?

Let us know!


I’m on the board, AMA.


Is it really a good idea to tell the whole world you are looking for board members? I would never tell some NEW BFF. Seriously.


Hi, Rick! I’m not sure I understand your comment, so I’m hoping you could explain your concerns. What do you find to be a bad idea about letting folks know we’re recruiting board members?


Is CES an Approval only organization at this point? It looks like it from the website, but the website header and this post both use the plural “voting methods”. If you recruit new board members on an Approval only pitch it will only reinforce that outcome, and highlight a narrow image of CES as an Approval advocacy group, not as an objective source on the multiple options voters are faced with.

There are currently NO groups out there that are filling that critical, objective, and scientific niche. I wish CES would fill that void. We need a center for election science. IMO advocacy work shouldn’t come at the exclusion of that somewhat divergent mission statement.


I agree with @Sara_Wolf. The CES needs to take a stance or none at all. For single winner or single district elections score is clearly the best (Approval and STAR being types of score). To really be the center for election science you need to recommend a multi-winner or multi-district system. Or at least a set of approved systems. I have been digging into this for a while now and there does not seem to be consensus. I would obviously like to put my system forward as best but that is not the point.

If you decide to go about this scientifically you should start with a list of requirements. Then objectively grade all systems according to the predefined requirements. I would think that single member score voting would actually rank quite high as the only major failing is low proportional representation. If that is your stance then great but I am not really seeing this on the page. If you want to initiate such a process then I would be happy to be a board member and do it. I will do it either way so I might as well have help.

1 Like

I’d love to see CES cover and “approve” a number of single winner reforms including Approval, Score, STAR and also Ranked Pairs and some of the Condorcet Systems. Some are less resistant to strategic voting, some are less accurate, some are less simple, but all offer pretty fair and equal elections that would meet at least a minimum bar for good democracy. Then CES could go further and offer a few of them as recommended while even highlighting one as a featured option.

They could also do something similar with multi-winner and PR options at some point.


I wouldn’t be too optimistic about this. I asked a related question to Aaron Hamlin during the Reddit AMA, and the response was… less than encouraging.


I think that answer is good for the single winner situation. Approval would be a good first step and more advanced systems don’t get you much farther but would be much harder to win in a refferendum.

The multi-member case is another question.

Maybe rather than endorsing specific systems it would be prudent to instead to oppose design features. The CES should say that they oppose ordinal systems and partisan voting.


We’re definitely not an “Approval Only” organization.
I think a hard distinction is between the voting method and the organization advocating for the voting method. CES is supportive of most advocacy groups that are recommending cardinal voting methods.

That said, we believe that the simple use and ease of implementation of a voting method are very important. Approval and Score are voting methods we have no concerns supporting.

Multi-Winner voting methods are still an open question within the community, so we’re reticent to advocate for one specifically. We believe proportional representation is an incredibly useful feature that should be considered. We will back attempts to eliminate terrible systems like “Plurality At Large” voting.

There are a few things that I, as a board member, would love to see CES doing:

  1. Doing more outreach and education. Getting Election Science taught in schools.
  2. Consulting work. Reaching out to organizations who want to redevelop how they pick their own boards, companies, and being available as a hirable resource for communities that want answers.
  3. Developing a self-sustaining volunteer organization. We don’t use volunteers very much, but we need to do more to create organizations who can run campaigns in communities.

These are the kinds of questions that the board exists to answer – if you want to have a direct influence on how CES makes its decisions and prioritizes its resources, apply. If you think what we’re doing is wrong – apply. If you think what we’re doing is right – apply!

1 Like

As another current board member, I’d like to underscore that CES is not an “Approval Only” organization. We definitely see traction there, and lots of advantages, but we also recognize that there are a wide variety of election circumstances, and a wide variety of voting methods to apply to them. How to best match them up, and how to refine methods and create new ones remain huge topics, which I expect us to apply some of our new resources to.

Note that the board also has @Jameson-Quinn, a scholar and thought-leader on a wide variety of voting methods, who has had a leadership role in trying to help British Columbia find a PR method that the people will support. That of course remains a difficult challenge involving education, politics and organizing, but one that CES supports.

So if you value an organization grounded in science and effective in making a difference for one of the major challenges facing our society, please do help us find some more great board members!


Let me give you all a few humble pieces of advice. I will not run for any board membership. I’m both unorthodox and extremely opinionated. I know, for instance, that election methods must be stripped down to the bare minimum of complexity. The simplest method would be score voting with the possible scores running from (1) to (10), and no zero votes allowed. If you allow a zero vote, you create the extra possibility of an abstentious vote and these two should yield the same result, and this in turn only creates an extra complication. Devious officials love nothing more than extra complications.

“Little details have special talents in creating big problems!” – Mehmet Murat ildan

I was once a (sort-of) ordinary member of an incorporated “egalitarian” intentional community where people lived and there was a “health food” restaurant attached. Factions evolved, and the friction became so intense that I was selected to be the dictator, or actually Cult Master (and president of the not-for-profit corporation that actually ran things). That was a major mistake, and before long I was dealing with factions that were having shoot-outs with live ammo. I was almost shot when some fool accidentally sent a slug through the ceiling of a room I was in. I have participated in several political organizations, and I have often witnessed the dirty side.

Once you realize just how dirty the dirty side can become, you come to understand the value of simplicity. Simplicity is one of the precious few things that may stand between you and the dirt. That’s why I say that people who wish to make systems that work for “honest” voters are asking for disaster. Much better to simplify everything by just assuming that every one should vote strategically. The only criterion that counts in the end is the necessity to eliminate the two-party (or at least few-party) lock-in that the present single-selection voting method automatically ensures. Approval suffers with the double bind dilemma (or quandary) and will make voter strategy more onerous. Proportional representation and the abolition of gerrymandering are important, but not as important as the removal of lock-in. You are on the Dark Side already, even if you can’t accept that – because all of politics is about moving dirt.

Right now, the most pressing issue for your organization is acceptance of the fact that the world of politics is anything but pure. Whatever you endorse, outsiders who do not approve of real democracy will oppose. Those people will very easily pretend to be things which they are not. If you cannot accept this you are in the same situation as a defenseless bunny rabbit, set to fall prey to the hawk. Do not be that bunny rabbit.

So rather than announce to the wide, dirt-laden world that you are looking for leaders, you should look for people who you know well and trust, and who have lengthy positive track records. Just my two cents.


So the TL;DR is “Stopping vote splitting is more important than PR”? I have been saying that for years.


It really depemds on which PR you use.
Asset Voting is immune to vote splitting… with some asterisks. But that system is always going to be controversial. RRV could be nice but nonprecinctable systems just seem fundamentally worse. STV just seems too much like IRV for me to support.

I will not run for board member.


PR is not a system or class of system. It is a measurable outcome of all systems. My point was that solving vote splitting should be of a higher importance than getting near exact PR


Another thread might be appropriate, but @Keith_Edmonds can you clarify your notion that

“Stopping vote splitting is more important than PR”?

These criteria are both important, but it seems like the issue of vote splitting is rather different in single-winner vs multi-winner contests, as is the appropriate mitigation for it.
And I’d say PR is the more important criterion for multi-winner contests.

1 Like

Vote splitting is one of the major causes for low levels of PR. PR is a measurable outcome of a system and vote splitting is dictated by the ballot so it is design.

Just to clarify, normally we are talking about the selection of a parliament. This can be done through a multi-member system where each multi-member district is used to select some number of members for the parliament OR a single member system where each member is selected independently.

For the selection of a single winner like a mayor there is no concept of proportionality. In this case the problem is solved and no further debate is needed. Score is the best system for this.

When selecting a parliament I assert that no vote splitting is better than higher PR. There are examples of all possibilities. Single Member Plurality has vote splitting and typically lower levels of PR. MMP has very high PR but has vote splitting. Since it is single member and has vote splitting it MUST use partisan votes to obtain the near exact level of PR. In this case the cure (partisan voting) is worse than the disease (low PR). I am not sure why you make a distinction between single and multi-member systems. Dual Member Proportional is multi-member but has vote splitting. As such it has the same flaw (partisan voting) as MMP. On the other hand we can have single member systems which have no vote splitting, the best being Single Member Score. This will not obtain as high of levels of PR as MMP but since there is no vote splitting it has higher PR in general than Single Member Plurality. So it is an improvement in all aspects not a trade-off like MMP or DMP.

Clearly the best systems are those which have no vote splitting and high levels of PR. Systems like Reweighted Range Voting or Sequential Proportional Approval Voting are good examples. These need not be multi-member since we can use Dr. Becker’s Clustering method (Local district clusters vs Multi-member districts). These systems are normally prohibitively complicated. @Sara_Wolf has organized a committee to agree on the best system of this and we are making progress. If we were united on a system then education may get us over the complexity problem given enough time.

Main reason for wanting high PR is government formation since this will decide the leader. This is better solved through something like consensus government formation anyway so once you have a reasonable level of PR why do you need much more? Many systems actually have mechanisms to prevent near exact PR by giving more seats to the winning party or making a threshold on the number of seats won to get any. PR is often a Trojan Horse to get a more partisan system.

So then it basically comes down to Single Member Score or MMP. ie solving vote splitting or solving PR. Single Member Score is a clear improvement. MMP is debatable. I would argue worse than single member plurality. This means the narrative “Stop vote splitting" is more important than "Get high PR”.