A Simple Guide to Quadratic Voting (2024)

A Simple Guide to Quadratic Voting (1)

How it works and what it’s used for

Within DAOs, and organizations that have token-based membership and governance, there is a high level of flexibility and customization that can be programmed into voting processes.

One voting method that has gained in popularity is “quadratic voting”, also known as “plural voting”. Quadratic voting is a system that is similar to rank-choice voting (allowing one to express preference of certain choices over others), however it also serves an additional function in that it allows for the intensity of conviction to be weighted. When compared to other common voting mechanisms like one-person-one-vote or one-token-one-vote, QV can help align incentives, balance power, and encourage voter participation.

Quadratic voting (or QV) requires more complex calculations than regular rank choice voting, but with the right interface, it is an intuitive and simple-to-use mechanism. Voting using QV is done in two parts.

Allocating credits

Each voter is given a budget of “credits”. As an example, this may be 100 credits. Then, each voter allocates their credits among all available options. The voter can then allocate their 100 credits among the choices in any way they choose. 100 credits could all go towards one option. The credits could also be split among all choices and weighted based on preference.

Calculating votes

The counted votes are the square root of the “credits” allocated to each choice. This means that 100 credits applied to one choice are 10 votes. 25 credits applied to one choice are 5 votes. 4 credits applied to a choice are 2 votes, and so on.

A Simple Guide to Quadratic Voting (4)

Weighting votes quadratically can be advantageous for several reasons. It protects minorities, helps balance power against whales, and may better capture community sentiment when compared to rank choice voting.

Protecting minority advocates

QV helps address issues where there may be an opinionated and passionate minority whose interests are ignored by an indifferent majority. This allows minority interests to be better balanced and recognized, while at the same time making single-issue zealotry expensive.

Balancing power

Quadratic voting can help balance power among communities with a large spread in voting power. Compared with one-token-one-vote, QV can be better at incentivizing participation among members with lower ownership or voting power. This is because it can still recognize the outsized voting power of whales, while balancing their weight in ways that can feel more democratic. Alternatively, compared with ultra egalitarian one-person-one-vote mechanisms, QV can better recognize stakeholders that are more active or invested.

Capturing community sentiment

With rank choice voting on elections with several choices, sometimes the results may appear close to each other even though there may be a significant gap in the intensity of conviction among the choices. Because QV weighs the passion of voting participants, it can result in more accurate snapshots of community sentiment.

Quadratic voting may not be as appropriate for elections where there are only two choices, or for instances where simplicity is preferred.

Elections with two options

For elections with only two options, there is less of a need to apply quadratic weighting to votes. Oftentimes, it may make more sense to do simple majority voting.


Although QV is at its heart an intuitive process, many of us may be unfamiliar with what “quadratic” functions are. Having to speak about something we learned in algebra class as part of a voting process can risk being distracting from the actual vote.

DAOs, nation-state governments, and online communities with democratic mechanisms are all experimenting with quadratic voting.


In the Web3 space, many DAOs are eager to experiment with quadratic voting as a way of improving governance outcomes. The concept of quadratic voting, as well as quadratic funding, has been supported and discussed by Ethereum Founder Vitalik Buterin in several blogs, interviews, and talks.

A search for quadratic voting strategies on off-chain polling application Snapshot reveals some early community experimentation. One major challenge holding back adoption of quadratic voting in DAOs is the ongoing unsolved challenge of Sybil resistance. Because quadratic voting considers not just how many credits were allocated to each option but also where those credits came from when calculating votes, it can be particularly vulnerable to Sybil attacks.


In 2019, the Colorado State House of Representatives used quadratic voting as a way to determine which appropriations bills to prioritize funding first.

Beyond this example, quadratic voting has not been adopted in official binding elections in the US. However, as more municipalities adopt rank choice voting, there’s a chance that more governments could adopt quadratic voting in future elections.

Arts and Public Goods Funding

The concept of quadratic voting has extended to a concept of “quadratic funding”, which uses the same logic of quadratic vote allocation, but for matching funds. This works through the creation of a pool for fund matching, which is then allocated based on a quadratic voting formula that counts the initial donations as votes. Some examples of this being used are Gitcoin, which uses quadratic funding to support open source software projects, and Artizen, which uses quadratic matching to support arts and other public goods projects.

Quadratic voting won’t become a singular wholesale voting ideology that will satisfy the needs of every community. However, as rapid experimentation in DAO governance continues, we may see that incorporating quadratic voting, in some instances, is an effective way for organizations to democratically allocate resources, capture community sentiment, and give greater power to minority stakeholders.

Quadratic Voting Tools

https://quadraticvote.co/ by Gitcoin

Google Sheets Template For Quadratic Voting


Quadratic Voting Resources

Quadratic Voting: How Mechanism Design Can Radicalize Democracy

RadicalxChange: The Handbook for Radical Local Democracy

RadicalxChange: Plural Voting

Quadratic Payments: A Primer

A Simple Guide to Quadratic Voting (2024)


What is the primary disadvantage of quadratic voting? ›

It has certain drawbacks in its framework that make it vulnerable to cheating and collusion. This lack of resistance against cheating could make it vulnerable to Sybil attack, for example. Collusion is also a potential threat to the system, where one might hire multiple people to cast votes for a certain issue.

Which of the following are benefits of quadratic voting? ›

Which of the following are benefits of quadratic voting? The potential for logrolling or persuasion by special interest groups is eliminated. Every voter has an equal chance at influencing the outcome. The strength of voters' preferences is accounted for.

Which method of voting does the House use but the Senate does not? ›

While many votes are conducted by voice, a recorded vote is required in some cases, and is often requested by Senators in others. Unlike the House, the Senate does not have an electronic voting system; recorded votes are conducted through a call of the roll.

Which voting system is associated with the paradox of voting? ›

Implications. When a Condorcet method is used to determine an election, the voting paradox of cyclical societal preferences implies that the election has no Condorcet winner: no candidate who can win a one-on-one election against each other candidate.

What are the pros and cons of the quadratic formula? ›

-The advantages of this method are that the quadratic formula always works and is straightforward. -As long as you use it correctly, it always gives you the right answer. Disadvantages: -The disadvantages are that the formula provides no insight and can become a rote technique.

Why is quadratic formula the best? ›

Why is the quadratic equation useful? Certain quadratic equations can be used to calculate values for both stationary and moving objects or things. In the case of moving objects, we can find their peak height, reaching point, distance from certain points at corresponding times, and so on.

What are the advantages of the quadratic method? ›

The quadratic formula is x = (-b +- (b*2 - 4ac)^. 5))/2a. The advantages of this method are that the quadratic formula always works and is straightforward. The disadvantages are that the formula provides no insight and can become a rote technique.

What are the disadvantages of quadratic probing? ›

There is one problem with quadratic probing: Its probe sequence typically will not visit all slots in the hash table. Unfortunately, quadratic probing has the disadvantage that typically not all hash table slots will be on the probe sequence.

What are the disadvantages of majority voting? ›

Seeds For Change argued that majority rule can lead to poor deliberative practice or even to "an aggressive culture and conflict." Along these lines, majority rule may fail to measure the preferences intensity.

What are three criticisms of the primary and caucus system quizlet? ›

Criticisms are frontloading, the winner takes all system vs. proportional delegate representation, momentum, participation, and money.

What is a major criticism of the winner take all electoral system quizlet? ›

It is "undemocratic;" It permits the election of a candidate who does not win the most votes; and. Its winner-takes-all approach cancels the votes of the losing candidates in each state.

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