About Private Voting in DAOs.

Josip Vlah
2 min readJan 25, 2023

Recently a new proposal was created in regards to NounsDAO to implement private voting through ZK Proofs and It got me thinking: Do DAOs in general need the private vote option?

midjourney for the win

Let’s look at the current vote structure:

If you are a member of the DAO you are eligible to vote on certain proposals set by the other members of the DAO. The votes that you set are public and transparent.

On one hand this are the core principles the blockchain works on (Transparency) but on the other hand this can cause some problems so let’s dive in:

🦉 Firstly we have the delegation problem. For anybody non familiar with how does delegation work, it essentially enables DAO members to delegate their votes to other people.

Delegation Houses consists of passionate builders within the protocol they are delegating the votes to and those builders mostly vote “Yes” for the things they think are contributing towards the ecosystem. Which is ok, but due to the fact that this is public and viewed by others they want to support as many projects and teams as possible and this can translate to them having a pressure to vote against certain proposals.

🍵 The same idea translates to the people who have a big voting power in certain DAOs. (Meaning they own x amount of governance tokens)

We have seen numerous times holders elaborating on their voting while still being subject to a lot of controversy about their voting outcome. Nobody should feel the pressure about what they can or cannot vote on.

⬇ Problems which can potentially rise from this:

1. Backlashes from the community due to transparency reasons.

2. Needs to have some sort of a proof of reputation (Sismo looking at you and those ZK badges for solution)

3. Putting all proposals to be private votes (Not everything should be public but also not everything should be private) Meaning there needs to be a certain ground line to the transparency.

4. Potential briebery and malicious activations (Those can be incorporated within proof of reputation model)

5. Potential inactivity of the DAO members.

There is one solution which can tackle couple of the problems mentioned here and that’s

Optional private voting.

Essentially enabling DAO members to choose weather to vote privately or publicly. This solution can tackle the problem of the inactivity as well as the backlash of the community to some extend.

If you ask me, the optional private voting is the key, especially when considering the implementation of some sort of the anonymous reputation model on-chain.

Time and votes will tell what will be implemented but we will definitely see advancements in the DAO space in the months to come.

If you have any addition towards the article, idea or suggestion feel free to reach out.