How to set up an on-chain vote account
The Vote Account Management tutorial explains how to set up a vote account in Solana blockchain. The process of creating a vote account involves running the “create-vote-account” command and configuring it with the desired parameters. The vote account has a unique address and is used to delegate tokens in a stake account. It also includes several important components like Validator Identity, Vote Authority, Authorized Withdrawer and Commission. The Validator Identity is used to pay for all vote transactions, while the Vote Authority signs each vote transaction. The Authorized Withdrawer is used to withdraw funds from the vote account and can be changed later using the “vote-authorize-withdrawer-checked” command. The Commission is the percentage of network rewards earned by the validator that are deposited into the vote account.
This page describes how to set up an on-chain vote account. Creating a vote account is needed if you plan to run a validator node on Solana.
Create a Vote Account
A vote account can be created with the create-vote-account command. The vote account can be configured when first created or after the validator is running. All aspects of the vote account can be changed except for the vote account address, which is fixed for the lifetime of the account.
Configure an Existing Vote Account
Vote Account Structure
Vote Account Address
A vote account is created at an address that is either the public key of a keypair file, or at a derived address based on a keypair file’s public key and a seed string.
The address of a vote account is never needed to sign any transactions, but is just used to look up the account information.
When someone wants to delegate tokens in a stake account, the delegation command is pointed at the vote account address of the validator to whom the token-holder wants to delegate.
The validator identity is a system account that is used to pay for all the vote transaction fees submitted to the vote account. Because the validator is expected to vote on most valid blocks it receives, the validator identity account is frequently (potentially multiple times per second) signing transactions and paying fees. For this reason the validator identity keypair must be stored as a “hot wallet” in a keypair file on the same system the validator process is running.
Because a hot wallet is generally less secure than an offline or “cold” wallet, the validator operator may choose to store only enough SOL on the identity account to cover voting fees for a limited amount of time, such as a few weeks or months. The validator identity account could be periodically topped off from a more secure wallet.
This practice can reduce the risk of loss of funds if the validator node’s disk or file system becomes compromised or corrupted.
The validator identity is required to be provided when a vote account is created. The validator identity can also be changed after an account is created by using the vote-update-validator command.
The vote authority keypair is used to sign each vote transaction the validator node wants to submit to the cluster. This doesn’t necessarily have to be unique from the validator identity, as you will see later in this document. Because the vote authority, like the validator identity, is signing transactions frequently, this also must be a hot keypair on the same file system as the validator process.
The vote authority can be set to the same address as the validator identity. If the validator identity is also the vote authority, only one signature per vote transaction is needed in order to both sign the vote and pay the transaction fee. Because transaction fees on Solana are assessed per-signature, having one signer instead of two will result in half the transaction fee paid compared to setting the vote authority and validator identity to two different accounts.
The vote authority can be set when the vote account is created. If it is not provided, the default behavior is to assign it the same as the validator identity. The vote authority can be changed later with the vote-authorize-voter-checked command.
The vote authority can be changed at most once per epoch. If the authority is changed with vote-authorize-voter-checked, this will not take effect until the beginning of the next epoch. To support a smooth transition of the vote signing,
solana-validator allows the
--authorized-voter argument to be specified multiple times. This allows the validator process to keep voting successfully when the network reaches an epoch boundary at which the validator’s vote authority account changes.
The authorized withdrawer keypair is used to withdraw funds from a vote account using the withdraw-from-vote-account command. Any network rewards a validator earns are deposited into the vote account and are only retrievable by signing with the authorized withdrawer keypair.
The authorized withdrawer is also required to sign any transaction to change a vote account’s commission, and to change the validator identity on a vote account.
Because theft of a authorized withdrawer keypair can give complete control over the operation of a validator to an attacker, is is advised to keep the withdraw authority keypair in an offline/cold wallet in a secure location. The withdraw authority keypair is not needed during operation of a validator and should not stored on the validator itself.
The authorized withdrawer must be set when the vote account is created. It must not be set to a keypair that is the same as either the validator identity keypair or the vote authority keypair.
The authorized withdrawer can be changed later with the vote-authorize-withdrawer-checked command.
Commission is the percent of network rewards earned by a validator that are deposited into the validator’s vote account. The remainder of the rewards are distributed to all of the stake accounts delegated to that vote account, proportional to the active stake weight of each stake account.
For example, if a vote account has a commission of 10%, for all rewards earned by that validator in a given epoch, 10% of these rewards will be deposited into the vote account in the first block of the following epoch. The remaining 90% will be deposited into delegated stake accounts as immediately active stake.
A validator may choose to set a low commission to try to attract more stake delegations as a lower commission results in a larger percentage of rewards passed along to the delegator. As there are costs associated with setting up and operating a validator node, a validator would ideally set a high enough commission to at least cover their expenses.
Commission can be set upon vote account creation with the
--commission option. If it is not provided, it will default to 100%, which will result in all rewards deposited in the vote account, and none passed on to any delegated stake accounts.
Commission can also be changed later with the vote-update-commission command.
When setting the commission, only integer values in the set [0-100] are accepted. The integer represents the number of percentage points for the commission, so creating an account with
--commission 10 will set a 10% commission.
Rotating the vote account authority keys require special handling when dealing with a live validator.
Note that vote account key rotation has no effect on the stake accounts that have been delegate to the vote account. For example it is possible to use key rotation to transfer all authority of a vote account from one entity to another without any impact to staking rewards.
Vote Account Validator Identity
You will need access to the authorized withdrawer keypair for the vote account to change the validator identity. The follow steps assume that
~/authorized_withdrawer.json is that keypair.
Create the new validator identity keypair,
solana-keygen new -o ~/new-validator-keypair.json.
Ensure that the new identity account has been funded,
solana transfer ~/new-validator-keypair.json 500.
solana vote-update-validator ~/vote-account-keypair.json ~/new-validator-keypair.json ~/authorized_withdrawer.json to modify the validator identity in your vote account
Restart your validator with the new identity keypair for the
Additional steps are required if your validator has stake. The leader schedule is computed two epochs in advance. Therefore if your old validator identity was in the leader schedule, it will remain in the leader schedule for up to two epochs after the validator identity change. If extra steps are not taken your validator will produce no blocks until your new validator identity is added to the leader schedule.
After your validator is restarted with the new identity keypair, per step 4, start a second non-voting validator on a different machine with the old identity keypair without providing the
--vote-account argument, as well as with the
This temporary validator should be run for two full epochs. During this time it will:
Produce blocks for the remaining slots that are assigned to your old validator identity
Receive the transaction fees and rent rewards for your old validator identity
It is safe to stop this temporary validator when your old validator identity is no longer listed in the
solana leader-schedule output.
Vote Account Authorized Voter
The vote authority keypair may only be changed at epoch boundaries and requires some additional arguments to
solana-validator for a seamless migration.
solana epoch-info. If there is not much time remaining time in the current epoch, consider waiting for the next epoch to allow your validator plenty of time to restart and catch up.
Create the new vote authority keypair,
solana-keygen new -o ~/new-vote-authority.json.
Determine the current vote authority keypair by running
solana vote-account ~/vote-account-keypair.json. It may be validator’s identity account (the default) or some other keypair. The following steps assume that
~/validator-keypair.json is that keypair.
solana vote-authorize-voter-checked ~/vote-account-keypair.json ~/validator-keypair.json ~/new-vote-authority.json. The new vote authority is scheduled to become active starting at the next epoch.
solana-validator now needs to be restarted with the old and new vote authority keypairs, so that it can smoothly transition at the next epoch. Add the two arguments on restart:
--authorized-voter ~/validator-keypair.json --authorized-voter ~/new-vote-authority.json
After the cluster reaches the next epoch, remove the
--authorized-voter ~/validator-keypair.json argument and restart
solana-validator, as the old vote authority keypair is no longer required.
Vote Account Authorized Withdrawer
No special handling or timing considerations are required. Use the
solana vote-authorize-withdrawer-checked command as needed.
Consider Durable Nonces for a Trustless Transfer of the Authorized Voter or Withdrawer
If the Authorized Voter or Withdrawer is to be transferred to another entity then a two-stage signing process using a Durable Nonce is recommended.
Entity B creates a durable nonce using
Entity B then runs a
solana vote-authorize-voter-checked or
solana vote-authorize-withdrawer-checked command, including:
--blockhasharguments to specify the nonce particulars
the address of the Entity A’s existing authority, and the keypair for Entity B’s new authority
solana vote-authorize-...-checkedcommand successfully executes, it will output transaction signatures that Entity B must share with Entity A
- Entity A then runs a similar
solana vote-authorize-withdrawer-checkedcommand with the following changes:
--sign-onlyargument is removed, and replaced with a
--signerargument for each of the signatures provided by Entity B
the address of Entity A’s existing authority is replaced with the corresponding keypair, and the the keypair for Entity B’s new authority is replaced with the correponding address
On success the authority is now changed without Entity A or B having to reveal keypairs to the other even though both entities signed the transaction.
Close a Vote Account
A vote account can be closed with the close-vote-account command. Closing a vote account withdraws all remaining SOL funds to a supplied recipient address and renders it invalid as a vote account. It is not possible to close a vote account with active stake.