🌏 Quadratic Voting: How Mechanism Design Can Radicalise Democracy

“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.” — Glen Weyl

Why Quadratic Voting (QV) Matters

Most governance mechanisms today in modern democracies use the 1-person-1-vote(1p1v) model. The biggest criticism of this model is the lack of market forces to allow stakeholders to express the strength of their decision beyond binary outcomes (i.e. being in favour versus being opposed to one)

For example, they can vote for what they prefer without being able to reflect how much they prefer it. This results in “populist tyrannies”, in which control of popular social discourse combined with rationing single unit of influence for each voter prevents the resolution of binary collection decisions in an optimal way.

How The Mechanism Works

  • “Voice credits” are distributed to voters over a period of time. These “voice credits” can be used to purchase more votes and are distributed optimally.
  • Voters can vote multiple times, but the cost of acquiring more votes (in voice credits) increases in a nonlinear way.
  • Voters express the extent of their preference towards a decision by buying and applying more votes to their desired outcome.

Assumptions: there are enough issues within a system to work on with a reasonable spread of consequence; so voters are forced to weigh the marginal cost of purchasing an additional vote with the perceived chance the (additional) vote will be pivotal in the election.

QV is the function in which the amount of “voice credits” you pay (N²) to express your preference increases quadratically with the number of votes you get (N).

Challenges for Adoption of QV

In most societies, anything outside of the existing 1p1v system gets treated like a series of intellectual theories without any practical relevance, or that they only apply in narrow settings.

Because Quadratic Voting requires some form of identity management to determine the distribution and tracking of “voice credits”, it leaves out many privacy-oriented systems where anonymity is important. For example, Zcash does not even have the idea of identity built into it’s system so it will not be able to adopt a governance mechanism like QV.

Quadratic Voting also assumes that voters are sufficiently incentivised to research and be well-informed on the issues they vote on. Regardless of whether or not voting is done on a state-level of just among communities like crypto, voter turnout has always been dismal to say the least. How do you assure that voters will not always choose to punt their voice credits to others in exchange for greater economic benefits versus necessarily the one that favours greater good outcomes?

Readings

Glen Weyl and Stephen Lalley’s Paper on Quadratic Voting

Glen Weyl’s Talk in UChicago on the Robustness of QV