What Is Quadratic Voting? (2024)

What Is Quadratic Voting? (3)

Quadratic Voting is a method of collective decision-making in which a participant votes not just for or against an issue, but also expresses how strongly they feel about it. It can help protect the interests of small groups of voters that care deeply about particular issues. Quadratic Voting can be used in democratic institutions, in corporate governance, and blockchain-enabled collective decision-making.

Why ‘Quadratic’?

In Quadratic Voting, each participant is given a number of credits that can be used to vote for an issue. However, the cost of casting more than one vote for an issue is quadratic, not linear. So, the marginal cost of each additional vote is far higher than of the previous vote.

Here is the Quadratic Voting formula: Cost to the voter = (Number of votes)^2

Imagine that a vote generally costs $1 to put toward an issue, and you have $100 of voting credits. You want to cast your vote toward protecting endangered species. Casting one vote will cost you $1. However, casting two votes for the same issue will cost you $4, casting three votes for the same issue will cost you $9 and casting 10 votes for the same issue will cost you your entire $100 of credits.

So, while you are increasing the chances of victory for your issue with each additional vote, the quadratic nature of the voting ensures that only those who care deeply about issues will cast additional votes for them.

Use in Colorado

After Democrats won Colorado’s Governorship and both of the state’s houses in 2018, they used Quadratic Voting to decide which appropriations bills to fund first. Since legislators were likely to sponsor their own bills and vote for them, the Democratic caucus sought a method to gauge which bills had everyone’s support.

Initially, the Colorado Democrats assigned 15 tokens for each legislator to use on their preferred 15 bills. After this didn’t work well, they talked to Microsoft economist Glen Weyl, who explained how Quadratic Voting could provide a solution.

Weyl saw Quadratic Voting as a solution to the ‘tyranny of the majority’ issue. Regular voting assumes that everyone cares for an issue equally, which is rarely the case. The reality is that some legislators do not care about certain issues, care moderately about others and care deeply about a few.

So, instead, each legislator was given 100 tokens. If a legislator cast one vote each for several issues, it would cost them one token each. However, a legislator could cast more than one vote for an issue, at the following cost in tokens:

What Is Quadratic Voting? (4)

Colorado’s experiment with Quadratic Voting was largely successful.

How is quadratic voting different from traditional voting systems?

First-Past-the-Post:In the first-past-the-post system used in most democracies, a candidate can win without getting the votes of a majority of people. Let’s say Candidate A gets 35% of votes, B, 30%, C, 24%, and D, 11%. A wins, but we know that a majority of people voted for someone other than A.

Proportional Voting: To address this, some jurisdictions have adopted proportional voting systems. Here, if 35% of the electorate votes for a given party, then 35% of seats in the legislature given to that party, and so on. Though these systems can be seen as an ‘evolved’ version of the first-past-the-post system, they do not work when a binary (yes or no) decision has to be made.

Ranked Choice Voting:In Ranked Choice Voting (which is used by several jurisdictions in California), each voter ranks their favorite candidates. The candidate with the lowest number of votes is eliminated in each round, and that candidate’s votes are redistributed to the candidates next in each vote’s preference order ahead of the next round. Though Ranked Choice Voting has its strengths, it is a complex and time-consuming system.

Quadratic Voting: Though Quadratic Voting is also complex, it arguably better protects the interests of small groups of voters that care deeply about particular issues. By increasing the cost of each additional vote, it disincentivizes voters that don’t care about issues from casting several votes for them. It also allows voters to show the intensity of their support for a given issue by casting several votes for it — at the expense of their ability to vote on other issues.


Modern democracies have generally used one person, one vote in their elections and legislative processes. Corporations have often adopted more sophisticated voting mechanisms (for example, allowing a shareholder to designate someone else to vote on their behalf). Complicated but arguably more democratic voting systems, such as Proportional Voting and Ranked Choice Voting, have not found widespread acceptance due to their complexity.

Now that blockchain-enabled collective decision making allows votes to be tracked in a transparent, public way, more complicated voting systems can be adopted. By allowing voters to express not just their preferences but also the intensity of these preferences, Quadratic Voting protects the interests of small groups of voters that care deeply about certain issues.

Shaan Ray

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What Is Quadratic Voting? (2024)


What is the quadratic voting mechanism? ›

Quadratic voting is based upon market principles, where each voter is given a budget of vote credits that they have the personal decisions and delegation to spend in order to influence the outcome of a range of decisions.

What does quadratic voting account for that traditional one person one vote majority voting does not? ›

The quadratic voting comes into play for expressing the strength of preference. An individual can vote more than once to express their preference dominantly. The voters purchase votes according to their preference and cast their votes.

Why are there 538 electoral votes? ›

There are a total of 538 electoral votes, and the number of votes each state receives is proportional to its size --- the bigger the state's population the more "votes" it gets.

How many electoral votes does a presidential candidate need to win? ›

A candidate needs the vote of at least 270 electors—more than half of all electors—to win the presidential election. In most cases, a projected winner is announced on election night in November after you vote. But the actual Electoral College vote takes place in mid-December when the electors meet in their states.

What are the 3 types of quadratic? ›

Read below for an explanation of the three main forms of quadratics (standard form, factored form, and vertex form), examples of each form, as well as strategies for converting between the various quadratic forms. Your mathematics journey has taken you far.

What is a quadratic quadratic system? ›

A quadratic system is a system that involves polynomial sentences of degrees 1 and 2, at least one of which is a quadratic sentence. One way to solve a quadratic system is to examine the points of intersection of the graphs of the equations. Examining Quadratic-Linear. Systems Geometrically.

What is the principle whereby if more than half of the voters agree on an issue then the entire group will abide by the decision? ›

The essence of democracy is majority rule, the making of binding decisions by a vote of more than one-half of all persons who participate in an election.

What is the paradox of voting quizlet? ›

paradox of voting. The question of why citizens vote even though their individual votes stand little chance of changing the election outcome. participate to. Show alleigance to the politcal system.

What is the goal of mechanism design as it relates to democratic voting? ›

What is the goal of mechanism design as it relates to democratic voting? To design voting rules that minimize the chance of inefficient outcomes.

Why did the founding fathers create the Electoral College? ›

The Founding Fathers established it in the Constitution, in part, as a compromise between the election of the President by a vote in Congress and election of the President by a popular vote of qualified citizens.

What happens if no one wins the Electoral College? ›

If no candidate receives a majority of electoral votes, the Presidential election leaves the Electoral College process and moves to Congress. The House of Representatives elects the President from the three (3) Presidential candidates who received the most electoral votes.

What happens if there is a tie in the House of Representatives? ›

According to House rules, in the case of a tie vote, a question before the chamber "shall be lost." In the lower chamber, where Republicans hold just a slim majority and often see a handful of defections among their conference, there's no tie-breaker.

How many presidents lost the popular vote? ›

There have been four elections in which the person elected president won the electoral vote, but lost the popular vote (1876, 1888, 2000, and 2016).

What does the 12th Amendment do? ›

The Twelfth Amendment made a series of adjustments to the Electoral College system. For the electors, it was now mandated that a distinct vote had to be taken for the president and the vice president. Further, one of the selected candidates must be someone who is not from the same state as the elector.

Which states are swing states? ›

Swing states by results
2020 electionMargin2000 election
New Hampshire7.35%DMinnesota
9 more rows

How does quadratic regression work? ›

Quadratic regression is a statistical technique used to find the equation of the parabola that best fits a set of data. This type of regression is an extension of simple linear regression that is used to find the equation of the straight line that best fits a set of data.

What is the quadratic inequality situation? ›

If a quadratic polynomial in one variable is less than or greater than some number or any other polynomial (with a degree less than or equal to 2), then it is said to be a quadratic inequality.

What's the quadratic parent function? ›

The parent function of the quadratic family is f(x) = x2. A transformation of the graph of the parent function is represented by the function g(x) = a(x − h)2 + k, where a ≠ 0. Work with a partner. Match each quadratic function with its graph.

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