Civic Blog

Quadratic Voting and DAO Governance: A Match Made in Heaven

Secure, accurate voting systems are the hallmarks of democratically run governments and organizations.

Yet, stories of unfair elections populate our news cycles all the time, whether they affect communities at an international, local or virtual levels.

There are many critiques of modern voting, including the standard one-person-one-vote system used by most entities.This system does not necessarily result in an election that represents the wishes of the electorate.

In fact, there are a couple known issues with standard voting. The first is the problem of majority rule, which is the principle that the group with the most supporters get to decide the rules, including minority groups. The second issue is called the Condorcet paradox, in which no one candidate could win a one-on-one election against any other candidate, leaving the electorate with a candidate that is not strongly preferred by a majority.

Fortunately, there’s another voting system that better reflects the wishes of the voting population. It’s called quadratic voting.

What is quadratic voting?

Quadratic voting is a massive upgrade to the standard voting system, whereby voters may express the degree of their preferences, which ultimately helps eliminate majority rule.

Quadratic voting works by giving each voter a set of credits, and asking them to express their support for their choices according to their preferences. For example, a voter could allot all of their credits to one candidate they strongly preferred. Or, they could distribute different amounts of credits to multiple candidates, indicating varying support for top candidates. For quadratic voting, the counted votes are the square root of the credits allocated to each choice.

The main advantage of quadratic voting is a more accurate representation of the preferences of the population. 

Voting and governance in DAOs

As decentralization reshapes power in organizations, DAOs have become a place to experiment with community decision-making. Voting can direct everything from leadership to product direction to treasury expenditures.

Of course, experimentation has led to colorful examples of what not to do, underscoring the need for community involvement. There have been examples of criminally founded DAOs and treasury heists. And, one persistent problem has plagued DAOs — low voter turnout. This phenomenon has recently resulted in delegated stewards who can vote on behalf of DAO members.

We’re also seeing a strong need for more fairness in DAO governance, which requires advanced, thoughtfully setup tooling to resolve. One recent example is ongoing controversy over the allocation of public funds in a blockchain ecosystem. The community remains divided over whether tokens earmarked for providers of free services should go to VC-backed companies.

Regardless of the challenge at hand, these real-world governance issues can find more resolution through intelligent tooling and resources.

The future of quadratic voting in DAOs

Fairness through decentralization has long been a bedrock principle of web3 and blockchain ecosystems. By using this value as a guide, the visionaries of web3 seek to empower individuals and promote community ownership.

At Civic, we’ve long believed that more equitable technology can help improve people’s lives. The principle is even embedded in our name, we believe that identity can help build communities of trust.

It’s no surprise that we ventured early into blockchain governance, helping Realms, a DAO platform, set up advanced tooling for its communities in the summer of 2022.

With the rise of AI, it’s more important than ever to take advantage of the protections that digital identity can afford. Through account abstraction and our advanced toolset, we’re augmenting these systems to bring our vision to life. With Proof of Personhood, we can help protect against Sybil attacks, supply compliance inputs and even bring quadratic voting to these communities.

We can’t wait to witness a more equitable future. Stay tuned for more news in the new year about what we’re doing to help develop quadratic voting for DAO governance.

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