In brief: we’ll use a weighted version of ranked-choice voting to determine the winners in the Donation Election. Every voter will distribute points across candidates. We’ll add up the points for all the candidates, and then eliminate the lowest-ranking candidate and redistribute points from voters who had given points to the now-eliminated candidate. We’ll repeat that until we have 3 winning candidates; the funding should be allocated in proportion to those candidates’ point totals.
Note: this system is subject to change in the next week (I’m adding this provision in case someone finds obvious improvements or fundamental issues). If we don’t change it by November 21, though, it’ll be the final system, and I currently expect to go with a system that looks basically like this.
What it will look like for voters
As a reminder, only people who had accounts as of 22 October, 2023, will be able to vote. If you can’t vote but would like to participate, you can write about why you think people should vote in a particular way, donate to the projects directly, etc.
What it will look like if you can vote:
- Get invited to vote and go to a voting portal to begin the process
- Select candidates you’d like to vote on
- You’ll be able to select all the candidates, or just the ones you have opinions about
- Assign points to the candidates you’ve selected, based on how you personally would allocate funding across these different projects (paying attention to the relative point ratios)
- Write a note about why you voted in that way (optional), and submit!
A rough sketch of these steps (see the footnote for an actual sketch mockup):
Longer explanation: How vote aggregation will work and more on why we picked this voting method
In classical ranked-choice voting, voters submit a ranking of candidates. When votes are in, the least popular candidate is eliminated in rounds until a winner is declared. After each elimination, voters’ rankings are updated with the eliminated candidate removed (meaning if they ranked the candidate first, their ranking moves up), so votes for that candidate are not wasted.
We wanted to track preference strength more than ranked-choice voting allows us to do (i.e. we wanted to incorporate information like “Voter 1 thinks A should get 100x more funding than B” and to prompt people to think through considerations like this instead of just ranking projects), so instead of ranking candidates, we’re asking voters to allocate points to all the candidates. We’ll normalize voters’ point distributions so that every voter has equal voting power, and then add up the points assigned to each candidate. This will allow us to identify the candidate with the least number of points, which we’ll eliminate. Any voters who had assigned points to that candidate will have their points redistributed to whatever else they voted on, keeping the proportions the same (alternatively, you can think of this as another renormalization of the voter’s points). If all of a voter’s points were assigned to candidates which are now eliminated, we’ll pretend that the voter spread their points out equally across the remaining candidates. We’ll run this process until we get to the three top candidates.
This should allow us to capture good information about how people would like to distribute the fund while also giving every voter similar power in determining the final outcome without penalizing people for voting for unpopular candidates or the like.
Let us know what you think!
Comment here or feel free to just reach out.
Also, consider exploring the Giving Portal, sharing how your project would use extra funding (or asking questions about other projects) for Marginal Funding Week, or otherwise participating in Giving Season events!
Thanks to Will Howard and everyone who commented on my earlier Quick Take!
If all the candidates you voted on get eliminated (i.e. your score on all the remaining candidates is 0), your vote on the other candidates will be redistributed as if you spread your vote out equally. This will mean that the final distribution of funding will be a bit more equal than if you hadn’t voted at all.
We wanted to prompt people to deliberately select projects to vote on to avoid encouraging people to semi-randomly assign small votes on projects they hadn’t thought much about (which might then get counted a lot if the major projects they’d thought about would get eliminated), and to make the point allocation step simpler for someone who just wants to distribute funding to their top 3 charities or the like.
We’ll have some tools to make this process easier. You’ll be able to start with a draft allocation, reorder by the point amounts you’ve added to review, edit, etc. We might also add an optional tool that people would be able to use to create a draft point allocation by simply comparing pairs of projects.
A highly polished mockup of the voting portal:
See this illustration of what it might look like if Candidate A is eliminated in classical ranked-choice voting:
If there’s a tie, we’ll eliminate tied projects at the same time, unless that would put us at <3 winning projects, in which case we’ll choose based on the original totals (or, if those are also tied, randomly). I think a tie at any point is highly unlikely. (This process is loosely based on Robert’s Rules.)
Why this might make sense, intuitively:
We could treat votes from people whose voted-on candidates have all been eliminated (or whose remaining votes are 0's) as non-votes (i.e. the fact that they voted doesn’t affect the vote at all at this point), or we could pretend that the 0’s they put were actually minuscule positive point values, distributed evenly on all the non-voted candidates.
Now suppose lots of people assign all their points to a few unpopular candidates which are eliminated before we get to the top three (note that this is a somewhat unlikely scenario). This would mean that our top three winning projects are something that lots of voters didn’t think much about (or thought were less cost-effective than other projects). It seems better to treat the projects as if they’re a bit more similar to a normal base rate of charities and in particular to equalize votes between them a bit.