Vote Swapping

A different type of democracy

A major limitation and criticism of direct democracies is that they allow or force voters to vote on issues/topics that they have little knowledge about. This may lead to decisions being made by a majority who has low information and low care on a topic. Not only will this lead to a poor decision making system, but it is also inefficient to make these decisions. To address these concerns, we introduce Vote Swapping; a way to swap votes - similar principal to how a society trades goods in a free market naturally. As a free market naturally organizes societies to produce better products and services more efficiently, Vote Swapping will allow voters to naturally organizes so that experts and passionate people will have more say in the decisions that matter most to them.

Vote Swapping, within a democracy, allows voters to trade votes on one topic for votes on another topic.

By the above simple definition, there may be multiple variations of Vote Swapping. In many of these variations, it is proposed that this be achieved via ‘political capital’ (PC); a sort of currency/credit to overcome the ‘coincidence of wants’ obstacle. There is a multitude of ways that converting votes into PC (and vice versa) may be achieved. In this article, I will attempt to make the case for one, the Simple Blind Ratio.

Simple Blind Ratio (SBR)

The Simple Blind Ratio is ‘blind’ because voters don’t know the value (in terms of PC) of their vote (on a particular issue) until the allocated voting time has expired. The voter may choose one of 3 options when a new proposal for an issue is published for voting. These options include (1) Vote in favour of the proposal, (2) vote against the proposal OR (3) trade vote for political capital. When a voter opts to trade their vote, it is converted into political capital when the allocated voting time has expired. Note, votes will be automatically converted into political capital if the voter neglects to make a vote and is, therefore, the default option. Voters also have access to an additional option; (4) to trade their saved PC for shares in votes. The price of traded votes is determined by the simple ratio:

Vote price = Sum of all spent political capital / Sum of all traded votes

And is calculated after the allocated voting period has expired. The political capital obtained is then stored and may be used for future issues. In turn, the shares of votes that is obtained by an individual voter spending political capital is determined by:

Vote share = political capital spent by a voter / Vote price

The obtained vote share will then be allocate to the position (for or against) that was predetermined by the voter.


  • A Simple Blind Ratio may be considered fair as the price of votes would be the same for all voters
  • It would be simple for voters/users to use
  • No price/value feedback loop: others need to decide what they are willing to lose
  • Voters would not be able to know the price of their vote and therefore not allowing them to match that price with how much they value a vote on a particular issue

The Case

The main advantage of using an SBR is that it’s simple. Usually, the more complex a system/product is to use, the less likely people are willing to engage with that system/product. By keeping it simple, the learning curve, for users, will be smaller allowing them to quickly become familiar with the system.

The advantage of the PC price being calculated and revealed after the allocated voting period has expired is that it would make it possible for all votes to have the same price for votes. On one end of the spectrum, if the price was predetermined, there would be a danger that the traded vote may not have the ‘true market value’; in terms of supply and demand. On the other end, if the price is allowed to vary during the allocated voting period, some people may be at a disadvantage as they may not get the same opportunity as others to get the optimal price when trading their vote due to time, connectivity or personal restrictions. It is important in healthy democracies that we aim for equal voting opportunity across all voters. This sentiment should be extended to Vote Swapping as well (open for debate).

Although an SBR version Vote Swapping does not allow voters to get the same price for a vote as their perceived value, it is the same for everyone and therefore maintains equality.

You win some; you lose some.