The Sortition Option
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Sortition, or selection by lot, from the Latin sortiri,
has a long history of use, going back to the ancient Solonian Constitution of
Athens, and serving the Republic of Venice well for 760 years. Rule by lot is called demarchy or klerostocracy, from the Greek kleros (κλερος), casting lots. Today it is
mainly used for the selection of juries, but the abuses of the electoral
process, resulting from the need for candidates to raise large sums of money
from donors who expect something in return, and the politicization of the
appointment or election of judges, makes it appropriate to consider amending
constitutions and laws to make more use of various forms of sortititon.
- Let's Toss for It: A Surprising Curb on
Political Greed, by Sigmund Knag, Independent Review, Vol. 3 No. 2,
- Defense of the Constitutions of the United States, Vol. I, Letter XIX: Venice, by John Adams, 1787. History of the Republic of Venice and their use of sortition in a constitutional framework.
- How to Pick
Our Leaders: Should We Try a Lottery?, by Dick Dougherty, The
Independent Institute, January 7, 1999.
- Demos: Classical Athenian Democracy, Christopher blackwell, editor. Site devoted to the analysis and discussion of how sortition worked in ancient Athens.
- Solon and Sortition, article on "Archon", The
Encyclopedia Britannica, Eleventh Ed., Vol. II, 1910.
- The Athenian Constitution: Government by Jury and
Referendum, by Roderick T. Long, Autumn 1996, published by the
Libertarian Nation Foundation.
- Choosing Representatives by Lottery
Voting, Akhil Reed Amar, 93 Yale L.J. 1283, June, 1984.
- Lottery Voting: A Thought Experiment, Akhil Reed Amar (Yale Law school, 1-1-1995) — Proposes election by random drawing of ballots cast in a district.
- Demarchy: A democratic alternative to
electoral politics, by Brian Martin, firstname.lastname@example.org, August 1989; revised
- Sortition, Wikipedia article.
without Elections, by Brian Martin, Social Anarchism 21
- An Essay on Democracy, by Peter Landry,
email@example.com, May, 1997.
- Going Bezirke, review in Reason by John McClaughry of
A Solving Problems
Without Large Government: Devolution, Fairness, and Equality, by George W.
Liebmann, Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 2000.
- What could the social structure of anarchy
- Transformational Politics, by Tom
Atlee, 1991, revised Sept. 1999.
- A Citizen Legislature, by Ernest
Callenbach and Michael Phillips, In Context 11 (Autumn 1985).
- A Citizen Legislature, by Ernest
Callenbach and Michael Phillips, Berkeley, California: Banyan Tree Books,
- A Model for a Tiered Constituent
Assembly, Proposed Models for a Canadian Constituent Assembly, by Bill
- Citizens' Juries in Great Britain, by
Jen Romslo and Sascha Pohl. Report of the British experience with citizens'
- Toward Deliberative Institutions: Lesson
from Citizens' Juries, by Graham Smith and Corinne Wales.
- Citizens´ Constitution of Czech
Republic (Draft No 1, 2002) — Proposes "citizens commissions" selected
by sortition as a key governing component.
- Sortition for Judges, by Jon Roland.
- Laws, Plato (~348 BCE) — Model
laws for a republic, including sortition for judges and other officials.
- Judging Athenian Dramatic
Competitions — Analysis of ancient Athenian practices for
- Enquiry Concerning Political
Justice, Book 6, Chap. 10, by William Godwin. Not favorable to
sortition, but not fond of balloting, either.
- Reflections on the Revolution in
France, by Edmund Burke, 1790. Argues against sortition, for
representation based on merit and property.
- Woodhouse's English-Greek Dictionary, entry for "lot".
- The Center for Deliberative Democracy — Promotes the study of sortition and related alternatives to voting.
- The Jefferson Center — Promotes
the use of citizens juries to advise elected officials on public policy
- Sortition: Society for Democracy including Random
Selection (SDRS) — Promote random selection as a complementary method
- Allot: People for a more democratic House
of Lords — Propose selection of UK House of Lords by sortition.
- Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform
— The Assembly is an independent, non-partisan assembly of 158 randomly
selected British Columbians.
- Equality by Lot — Blog of the Kleroterians.
- Instituting Meritocracy After the Collapse of Democracy in America, Terry Hulsey, lewrockwell.com — Proposal for using sortition to select members of both houses of Congress.
Also see Jury
Reform and Public
Sortition at sortition.net
Proposals at jonroland.net and Proposed Amendments at amend-it.org