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Suppose we have a vote widget. There are four possible options:

  • Vote for the proposal
  • Vote against the proposal
  • Abstain (i.e. neither for nor against)
  • Veto the proposal (i.e. very strongly against)

Every person who votes can pick one of those. We could also add an additional category of people who are required to vote, but haven't yet.


We might have four votes. For the purposes of the mechanic, "neutral" contains the sum of those who have abstained and anyone who's yet to vote. The results of which are below:

Vote 1: For - 80%, Against - 10%, Neutral - 10% (10% abstain), Veto - 0% : Result for

Vote 2: For - 30%, Against - 55%, Neutral - 15% (5% abstain, 10% not voted), Veto - 0% : Result against

Vote 3: For - 70%, Against - 20%, Neutral - 0%, Veto - 10% : Result against

Vote 4: For - 40%, Against - 20%, Neutral - 40% (10% abstain, 30% not voted), Veto - 0% : Result undetermined

The last result is undetermined as, if all neutral parties voted against it, it would not pass. In vote 2, even if all neutral members voted for it, the result would still be "against". In all cases, any veto automatically results in it the vote being against.


The person may view this graph before all votes have been cast. We want them to know:

  • What proportion of the people are in favour / against
  • How many people need to agree (or disagree) for a conclusive result
  • If the vote has been decided, and if so what the result is

The question is, what's the best way to visualise those results so that the mechanic is clear? For bonus points, what if we required a certain threshold (for example, a minimum of 70% voting for an option).

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I like what CNN had done for the 2016 presidential elections. You can use a bar and have for on one end and against on the other. The neutrals will stay on the against side. If a vote has been vetoed in that case you can say the result is against stating the reason that the vote has been vetoed. In addition you might want to explain why each vote resulted in the said result. This would make it clear to the user and won’t have to refer to the rules all the time. cnn.com 2016 presidential election

Let me know your thoughts.

  • Think this is the clearest one at the moment, it'd be the easiest to adapt & give the clearest indicator of what was needed. Combined with @Mike's suggestion on veto, it would work very well – Algy Taylor May 8 '18 at 9:58
  • Glad I could help! – Bhupi May 8 '18 at 12:36
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First of all I'd clearly state all the rules concerning the voting. Normally if someone does not vote, their votes are neither assumed nor spread between cast votes. In this case Vote 4 result is for (10% don't mind the result, 30% kept quiet despite having their chance).

Second of all - a veto option is very strong tool - it's enough if only one person of the whole population (it may be 10 people, it may be thousands) is against for the proposal to be stopped. Think about Liberum veto in the 17th and 18th century Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and how it induced anarchy in the political life of the country and led to their decline.
Unless your voters are considered experts in certain field and a particular person's life depends on the outcome of the voting.


The most important in your question is the part concerning the threshold. This defines two cases:

  • the threshold is not defined
    In this case it doesn't matter how many participants cast their votes. You can present a coloured pie chart with 3 options (for, neutral, against) and a disabled exclamation mark representing veto. Once the first veto vote is cast, the chart (whatever result it was) is greyed out and veto sign becomes red, as the proposal is stopped. See the examples below: Pie chart, no limit, no veto Pie chart, no limit, veto

  • the threshold is defined
    In this case the number of the participants is known. For the graphs you can either go the way described in the previous case with an addition of sort of progress bar below showing how many votes were cast and where the threshold is, see the picture below: Pie chart, limit, no veto
    You can also show the current status on the pie chart itself, displaying how many votes (percentage) have been cast already and where the minimum is: Pie chart, limit, no veto
    In both variants the veto mechanism can stay as in the first case.

  • Thanks - will wait for a few more answers before accepting one. For your points ... Generally, I agree with what you say on "veto", but in this particular situation all of the voters would be considered to be experts (imagine doctors discussing operating on a patient, or judges deciding whether to enact the death penalty). In those cases, it's quite important to be able to abort if there's any concerns. – Algy Taylor May 4 '18 at 7:37
  • The second point is similar. I agree with you generally, it's a bad way to run a democracy. However, If we always want the most cautious answer, automatically siding "don't know"s against the leading one means that the only way "yes" or "no" can win (excluding vetos) is if there's no element of doubt that the decision would go one particular way. It'll just go down as "indeterminate" until there's a (near) concensus. In both, the mechanism is intended to be cautious, and to forge consensus. – Algy Taylor May 4 '18 at 7:44
  • If the voters are considered to be the experts then "veto" is totally acceptable as it protects from crowd behaviour. – Mike May 4 '18 at 7:47
  • Think a combination of your answer and @Bhupi's would probably work the best. Your suggestion on the "veto" is the strongest, but I'm not a big fan of pie charts - I always find them quite hard to interpret if you have more than a binary yes/no choice. Here's quite similar, but I think the mechanic of it just pushes it over that point of being able to (easily) follow what's going on – Algy Taylor May 8 '18 at 10:04
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If you used a bar chart, you could draw a line at the percentage of the needed votes for a definite result would be. If a veto is voted, you could simply hide the line or disable it since it has no further relevance. If you require a threshold you could either draw the line of needed votes accordingly, or draw a second line.

enter image description here

  • Can you, please, select another colours for your bars? Those are barely visible. Furthermore, when the minimum number (percentage) of the votes is defined, it concerns the total number of votes and not for a particular option. – Mike May 4 '18 at 8:03
  • This does, in a sense, work. However, it's difficult to determine that against + abstain + not voted, IMO. – Algy Taylor May 8 '18 at 10:05

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