[ARFC] Private Voting for Aave Governance [2-month Trial]

This proposal is a collaboration between LBS Blockchain Society, Michigan Blockchain (@Michigan_Blockchain), and Flipside Crypto (@fig).

Simple Summary

As Aave grows, there is a need for more advanced features that ensure the privacy and security of participants. Private voting is one such feature that would help to accomplish this goal.

Making use of partial private voting within the Snapshot platform (shielded voting) will enhance Aave’s governance and voters - leading to more fair and accurate results in the Snapshot stage.

Shielded voting allows voters to hide their votes during the duration of the voting process and reveal their choices and results after the vote concludes.

We propose that the community votes to turn on the private voting module for a two-month trial period, which can be reverted by the community and Space administrators at any time.

This allows Aave to judge the efficacy of shielded voting in Snapshot and serve as a leader for Governance in other DAOs in adapting, experimenting, and innovating with new mechanisms.


Aave Governance features both on-chain and off-chain voting. In the signal stage, Snapshot, votes have become decided by a few voters without many diversions.

After speaking with other delegates, we recognize these outcomes and votes may not always reflect the true wishes of the community; it has become political. An example from Shutter’s blog of how the current process could be political, is below:

Consider a contentious vote in which a minority is pushing the poll early in one direction. Voters that don’t have a strong opinion already formed might see this and think the outcome is already decided. Thus, they will be discouraged from voting and also from researching/forming an opinion. This could then lead to the vote going in favor of the minority due to voter apathy, which would not be a good outcome, given that the goal of the poll is to represent the majority opinion.

Aave’s Snapshot space must be a place for honesty and candid feedback; without these values, the space becomes redundant and leads to burnout [proposal coming soon.]

By shielding the individual votes, it encourages voters of different sizes and opinions to participate and feel empowered, leading the DAO toward a more fair outcome.

Snapshot has recently introduced Shielded voting, announced here.

Shielded voting has four keys benefits:

  1. Prevents voter intimidation or coercion
  2. Prevent early voters’ decisions from influencing the decisions of later voters, thus reduce herding behavior and encourage independent thinking.
  3. Protects participants’ privacy by ensuring that their voting preferences are not exposed
  4. Enhances the overall security and integrity of the Snapshot platform by making it more difficult for bad actors to interfere with the voting process

A demo reveals a minimal change in the Snapshot UI:

This functionality is powered by Shutter Network.


The steps for upgrading a Snapshot space to Shielded voting are as follows:

→ admin of the “Aave” space go to the settings page in the “Voting” section

→ choose Shutter as a privacy option and click “Save”

→ all proposals from then on will use shielded voting.

The community may disable this feature anytime.

The current list of Snapshot admins is as follows:

  • @monetsupply
  • @MarcZeller
  • 0xc8E0345596D7196941E61D3aB607E57Fe61F85E7
  • 0x2357df661D0E56140dF30c3ad0b2B426fB4666e6
  • 0x60C8dC4762b217b4A00FF1824111077f331B1FbF
  • 0x2D0D6A8553993a3E9eD1D86415358D1EDEfa82F1


The following comments and replies have been used to inspire this proposal:

Shielded voting is live! — Snapshot Labs

Shutter brings shielded voting to Snapshot

Shielded voting demo - Pistachio DAO

Anonymous Voting in DAOs - MIT Research

We believe that the implementation of private voting within Snapshot would be a valuable addition to the platform.

We look forward to working with the Aave community and voters to make it a reality.


Copyright and related rights waived via CC0.


This will be an interesting experiment, in our opinion; there is an overlooked psychological effect that being able to see the results of an ongoing governance vote might have on token holders; monitoring voting behaviour in the absence of that knowledge will encourage individual thought instead of a herd mentality.

The only downside I see to this is the possibility of failing to reach quorum on some votes; by being able to see the results, we can tell if a proposal has hit quorum and then rally delegates and token holders to vote within time, but in this case, failing to reach quorum might be a common issue.


We’re excited by the possibility of this 2-month trial.

By trying this flexible solution (enabled/disabled at any time) embedded within Snapshot, Shielded creates less interruption for the end user and embraces experimentation.

Furthermore, we hope it reveals more truthful wishes of the community and voters, incentivizing them to represent their votes in the most honest, uninterrupted way.

Why the need for this proposal? As proposing and voting power centers around primary figures, it is important to allow delegates to participate in a candid manner, devoid of influence or intimidation.

Often, when pulling up Snapshot - the outcome has already been decided, with a lack of reason to cast your vote on the other side to be viewed as a contrarian or upset proposing team.

This behavior is unhealthy and may often falsely represent the true wishes or beliefs of the DAO.

Shielded voting is a step towards mitigating this concern.

If passed, we’re excited to use Snapshot data to evaluate the efficacy of this experiment and visualize the change in participation rates, vote differences, and outcomes.

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Hello, as the ACI, we’re trying to promote a culture of auditability & transparency in the DAO, so our initial position on commit & reveal schemes is not the most favorable.

Additionally, 95+% of our voting power originates from 195 addresses that trusted us to be their voice in the Aave DAO. It’s humbling but also a responsibility. As a delegate, we accept that anyone delegating to us can decide at any point to remove their delegation if they consider that our positions no longer align with their views. Open-voting gives clarity and is essential for this.

However, we’re open-minded and welcome experimentation on snapshot polling votes.

The ACI supports this initiative and wants to thank @lbsblockchain for creating this proposal.

As administrator of the Aave snapshot space, the ACI will implement this trial run if the outcome of this ARFC is YAE.


Hey guys, Figue from Paladin. We’ve been studying private voting quite a lot internally.
Our current stance on it is it is more dangerous than useful in the sense that it totally cancels out discussions during the vote.
In some very specific cases like elections, this could be relevant, but it also means it won’t be possible to detect collusion until vote is over.

Shielded voting will also prevent to know the stance of actors until the end of the vote unless they have publicly expressed it. This means that all the discussions with VCs who haven’t followed the governance closely are impossible. If this happened, Uniswap wouldn’t have been deployed on Uni v3, since A16Z nuked the vote and no one would have known about it until too late.

Removing the live outcome of the vote kills part of its interest.


Thats what i was thinking too.
I think voting should be transparent, nobody is hiding something and has a clear stance on their votes.

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From what i’m reading, there is no optionality if Shutter is enabled? Meaning that once enabled the voter does not have the option to choose between the Shutter private option or to be publicly seen before the “private reveal”.

I believe optionality is best for this but would be curious to see the Trial and welcome the experimentation.

As mentioned already by @MarcZeller, transparency on voting actions is essential for delegates and this would create a few obstacles if there no optionality on Private/Public voting view.


supportive of experimentation here at the snapshot phase

Thank you @lbsblockchain @Michigan_Blockchain and @fig for coming forward with the idea. The Aave community and governance at the current state definitely has space for experimentations and shielded voting could enable results that might lead to less skew to high voters direction and we might see some exiting results from the experimentation. Highly supporting the initiative.


Thank you for this proposal. We have seen promising results with shield voting in many DAOs and I am confident that the AAVE community will benefit from this implementation. Since this proposal asks for a 2 month trial, what is the success criteria for this trial?

Just an update on this proposal: it has received support from the community and an indication that the community would be happy with a 2-month trial. We are going to take into account @jengajojo’s feedback and define success criteria for the trial, which we’ll then upload onto this forum and simultaneously publish the Snapshot.

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As per @jengajojo’s feedback, we’ve come up with 3 criteria to assess the success of the trial. The time period the below criteria will be considered over will be 2 months prior to private voting being enabled vs. 2 months from when the time it is enabled.

  • Average spread between YES to NO votes
  • Number of unique voters voting
  • Difference between outcomes of the votes, i.e., what % of votes result in YES

For each of these criteria, success is when the average spread between YES to NO votes reduces, the number of unique voters increases, and there is greater variety in the outcome of the votes. These outcomes would indicate increased and more thorough engagement across the community.

We will progress this proposal to Snapshot stage on Monday 24 April.


Thank you @lbsblockchain for incorporating the feedback. I support your suggested criteria

Hi all, we’ve uploaded this to Snapshot and voting is set to go live 24 hours from now (17.00 GMT on 25th April 2023).

Please find the link here and we’d love your participation!


Although it might be too late of a response, I noticed this proposal on Snapshot and believe the reasoning provided by @lbsblockchain is too one-sided.

I agree that it’s a net positive to allow for this type of experimentation as @MarcZeller mentioned but there could be volatile precedents set in place with the widespread acceptance of shielded voting.

There are already multiple examples of highly contested proposals being swayed a certain way because of an entity’s increased voting power:
Sushi Kanpai | Uniswap BNB.

Their individual outcomes aside, the ability of the average voter to be fully aware of where deciding factors in a vote are coming from as well as align a voter’s actions with their public outlook is an important factor of governance that shouldn’t be restricted.

Take the below comment into consideration:

There is an undoubtedly strong impact on group voting when participants view larger entities engaging in governance. However, I feel as if protecting/shielding this engagement would advance the negative side of token voting compared to the positive benefits explained in the OP.

In one of the above-mentioned voting examples, there were instances where an entity became very outspoken about community support and its outlook on the protocol. During voting, this same entity voted against the general community even after stating otherwise.

From my viewpoint, this is where shielded voting would lead. This isn’t to say that protecting participants’ privacy is unimportant, I simply think that in a situation where parties could control a larger majority of voting power, transparency around their identity or standing within the community shouldn’t be hidden.

Another aspect of this that should be considered in greater depth is who determines the eventual success/failure of this shielded voting. The success criteria provided are reasonable, yet moving from an upgraded Snapshot space back to a disabled feature has not been clarified.

If it becomes clear that shielded voting would favor larger entities (and depending on the agreed upon method for including this change), who’s to say this would not become the status quo since these larger entities could vote this change into effect permanently?

This is a risk in current models - and not sure how it changes with private voting.

Nefarious actors may borrow or buy AAVE across multiple wallets - masking their identity, yet accumulating more power through this action.

As a reminder - the results are revealed after the vote concludes, allowing for a bit of accountability. If the community deems there is too much risk - they may shut it off at any time via a vote.

In my opinion, the risk of this trial is minimized as it exists in the TEMP CHECK / ARFC stage; budget requests, asset additions, and protocol upgrades still need to go on-chain to be executed

I agree it’s not a perfect solution yet - but looking at this community, it seems most competent to learn, experiment, and reflect on the outcomes from a trial.

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Luis here from Shutter (we worked with Snapshot to implement the shielded voting using threshold encryption).
It’s awesome to see this proposal and the active discussion around it!

To put it simply, shielded voting seems preferable (and that’s why real election voting works like this), due to higher information symmetry at the time of vote. We think this leads to less voter apathy and less manipulation/strategic voting.

It doesn’t prevent bribery or enhance individual voters privacy.

We also don’t think it negatively affects auditability/transparency, because all results will be public and auditable afterwards.

Ping us or the Snapshot team if you have more questions! We’d love to help and gather feedback during this trial, if the vote passes!


Very happy to see this put into a test, in the end there’s no better way to see if it’s a fit for the Aave community! Happy to help in setting it up as well if needed.


As we’re working on addressing collusion in DAOs at Butter, we’re interested in this experiment.

One of the arguments for shielded voting is that it reduces tacit collusion (indirect cooperation via observing live Snapshot results), leading to more truthful votes, as @Luis points out.

However, certain groups, such as a small group of whales with shared interests, might still collude under shielded voting. Their small size enables them to coordinate directly with lower costs.
As @Figue rightly points out, shielded voting makes such collusion undetectable until after the vote concludes. This could be detrimental to the community in certain cases.
However, it might be possible to counterbalance this: for instance, what about running a second Snapshot proposal if the community determines the initial vote was heavily biased?

In summary, implementing it will lead to different voting dynamics, which will be worth monitoring.
Also, as a consequence, this change might also impact the way some Temp Checks are conducted.

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Hey fig! Yeah I think we’re on the same page, I could also be viewing this from a more biased standpoint due to past experience.

Re: malicious actors, methods like borrowing/buying AAVE indirectly are more or less trackable to a certain extent (depending on the amount of effort directed to searching) imo.

Has the method for shutting off via vote been discussed yet (might’ve missed a few of these points) or would this follow a similar process as other proposals?

I think there could be two sides to displaying this on Aave vs a smaller dao/protocol since a permanent inclusion would lead to a much more impactful precedent. Still agree though that a temp check in this sense is a better outcome.