What makes Quadratic Voting an effective Democratic Voting Mechanism

The decentralization promise of blockchain technologies will only be fulfilled through concentrated, thoughtful attention to how these systems are governed. This topic has been top of mind for crypto enthusiasts since the early days and continues to serve as a focal point for discussions around how economics and mechanism design can make more open, free, egalitarian and efficient systems for human cooperation, including improving or replacing present-day corporations and governments — Vitalik Buterin.

For us at Eximchain, applying innovative governance models to blockchain technologies to fully realize their radical decentralization power and shift our reliance from authority and to formal rules has been critical to our business and product development from Day One. In June, we posted a brief explanation about our approach to governing blockchains for enterprises through the Quadratic Voting (QV) governance mechanism. Today, we will expound on how quadratic voting works and what makes this mechanism an effective way to achieve democratic voting by answering 3 core QV questions.

  1. How does Quadratic Voting work and what makes it “Quadratic”?

First things first: how does Quadratic Voting work? Glen Weyl, the inventor of QV explains that, “Quadratic Voting offers a better way to make collective decisions that avoids the tyranny of the majority by allowing people to express how strongly they feel about an issue rather than just whether they are in favor of it or opposed to it.” The way this works in practice is quite simple:

  • A voter is able to express how strongly they feel about a certain decision by buying and applying more votes to their desired position.
  • Voters can vote as many times as they want, but they are assigned a set number of voting tokens over a certain period of time and the cost of each vote/token increases in a nonlinear way.
  • In turn, quadratic voting takes advantage of the fact that the stronger someone feels about a certain position, they more they will be willing to allocate more of their votes to that position. In terms of why quadratic voting is “quadratic,” Vitalik explains in his article On Radical Markets, the voting is “quadratic” because the total amount you pay for N votes goes up proportionately to N².

2. How does Quadratic Voting compare to other democratic voting mechanisms?

Among other major democratic voting mechanisms are plurality/majority systems, proportional representation systems and semi proportional systems. Below, we outline how each of the preceding voting systems work and how quadratic voting compares to these mechanisms:

  • Plurality / Majority Systems: In plurality / majority voting systems, the position that receives the most votes (in the case of plurality systems) or the majority of votes (in the case of majority systems) wins the election. The easiest way to think of these systems is one-to-one: one vote for one voter and the position or candidate with the most votes or majority of votes win. How does it compare to QV? As compared to QV, simple plurality and majority systems fail to ensure that the electorate is able to express the level to which they support a given point of view and properly allocate their votes to support that point of view based on that degree of preference.
  • Proportional Representation Systems: Proportional voting systems are the most commonly used method for national legislatures. Proportional voting mechanisms are designed to ensure that the divisions of the elected body reflect the divisions of the votes of the electorate, i.e. if 30% of the electorate support a given party then 30% of the seats in the legislature will be represented by that party. How does it compare to QV? While proportional representation systems go a step further in ensuring that positions proportionally reflect the point of view of the electorates, in instances where a binary decision must be made (i.e. to take or not take an action), these systems again fail to accurately reflect how strongly the electorate prefers one position over another before make the decision.
  • Semi Proportional Systems: A few examples of semi proportional systems include cumulative voting, limited voting and parallel voting. In all instances, these systems produce more proportional results than majority systems, but less proportional results than fully proportional voting systems. How does it compare to QV? While there are several different types of semi proportional voting systems, none of these systems take into account the strength of voter preferences rather than the sheer number of votes cast towards a particular position.

3. What makes QV a uniquely effective Democratic Voting Mechanism?

There are two main issues with traditional democratic voting systems, which QV aims to address and rectify:

  1. Vulnerability to “Sockpuppets”: Excessive vote buying from fake accounts leaves the system too vulnerable to manipulation and destroys the integrity of the democratic voting process.
  2. Tyranny of the Wealthy Minority: When the wealthy minority is able to buy votes to enable them to skew the results of a position, the equity embedded in the democratic process disintegrates.

QV would serve to rectify these pitfalls by enabling the strength of voters’ point of view on a position to be taken into account in the voting process and ensure that the cost of buying many votes is prohibitive so the ability for a small elite to disproportionately affect outcomes is limited.

Below is an infographic on how Eximchain builds quadratic voting into its protocol, from the article published in June.

About Eximchain

Eximchain enables businesses to connect, transact, and share information more efficiently and securely through our blockchain utility infrastructure. Using Eximchain blockchain technology, enterprises can eliminate traditional supply chain barriers and integrates actors big and small into an efficient, transparent, and secure global network.

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