The Open Society Foundations support efforts to engage citizens not just in voting, but in ensuring that governments respond to the challenges of the day and the needs of all their people.
2019 Democratic Practice Budget by Region
Our work ranges from protecting voter rights and addressing issues of campaign finance and electoral reform, to strengthening policymaking and regulatory capacity and supporting groups that monitor government action and promote transparency and accountability as a check on corruption and abuse.
Monitoring work by NGOs and civil society groups can play an important role in preventing electoral fraud and manipulation in countries where democratic institutions remain weak. The Open Society Initiative for West Africa has developed an internet-based election observation platform called the Election Situation Room. It pools independent reporting by monitors during voting, helping electoral officials to respond to emerging issues before they become critical. The model has been successfully piloted during elections in Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, and Nigeria.
Open Society-U.S. support a range of groups working on protecting voting rights, including advocacy for minority voters who have been targeted by partisan gerrymandering. In January 2018, for instance, a federal court agreed with one of our grantees, the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, that the state’s most recent electoral map was drawn to prevent non-Republican voters—in this case, often black voters—from being able to meaningfully affect political outcomes, in violation of the U.S. Constitution.
Access to information reinforces the ability of citizens to hold their governments to account, and to combat corruption. The Open Society Foundations have supported the passage of right to information laws in over 50 countries since the 1990s by providing technical and legal advice. We have also actively supported efforts to establish the institutional machinery that is needed to deliver an effective response to freedom of information requests from the public—developing resources for judges, information commissioners, and civil society groups to help ensure that the public’s questions are answered.
From Kazakhstan to the Balkans, our foundations support local groups that engage people in local decision-making that affects their quality of life—on issues such as promoting education, planning new bus routes, and protecting local parks and green spaces.
Building Better Institutions
How the United States Can Support Armenia’s Fledgling Democracy
The people of Armenia have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to enact sweeping anticorruption and criminal justice reforms. Here’s what U.S. policymakers can do to help.
Lessons from 25 Years of Open Society in South Africa—and Dreams for the Next 25 Years
For more than a quarter of a century, the Open Society Foundations have been dedicated to South Africa, proudly supporting its nascent democracy and civil society movements.
What Accountability Really Means
No healthy civil society can exist without a foundation of public trust. Accountability Lab’s Blair Glencorse explains how his group is investing in the next generation of responsible, ethical, and devoted public servants.