Historically, voting rights have gone through a process of expansion from being exclusive to a minority to being quite inclusive. Interestingly, proposals for sortition-based government often come with various exclusion mechanisms. Such mechanisms can be classified by the stage at which they operate:

1. Pre-selection. These exclusions operate much like exclusions from suffrage did, and still do to some extent. Some general bureaucratic criteria are defined and all those who are determined to fall within those criteria are excluded from the sortition pool. Examples are the following groups: children, felons, non-citizens, those who do not take some sort of a loyalty oath, and citizens who are not registered (to vote, or to the sortition pool).

2. At selection. Qualification tests are administered at selection time, and only those who pass them are allowed to become delegates. Examples are: literacy tests and civics tests.

3. Post-selection. These are mechanisms for removal of serving delegates. Examples are popular recall or removal by a scrutinizing body.

Continue reading

Pot-Shop Lot in Arizona

Arizona to operate medical marijuana dispensaries, including one in Sun City West.

The random selection process culled 404 applicants who were in competitive bids to get licensed in 68 of the state’s “community health analysis areas.” Slots for another 29 areas drew only one applicant each.

You can find out more about this fun-lottery at:

Open letter: Sortition as a tool of democracy

Dear Mr. Scialabba,

I am writing to you following your article “Plutocratic vistas: America’s crisis of democracy”. I am a committed sortition supporter and advocate and a member of a group of like-minded people. We have a blog – Equality by Lot (https://equalitybylot.wordpress.com) – devoted to discussing and promoting sortition as a tool of democracy.

I liked your article a great deal. Articles discussing sortition in one way or another appear occasionally in the mainstream press (you can find a running record of such articles on Equality by Lot – the most prominent of these is Joe Klein’s 2010 Time article ”How Can a Democracy Solve Tough Problems?”). I think yours was substantially different.
Continue reading

Scialabba: Plutocratic vistas: America’s crisis of democracy

George Scialabba writes in the LA Review of Books and in Salon about the history of plutocratic control of elections in the U.S. and offers sortition as an alternative.

Scialabba has the following excerpt from the 1897 book Equality by Edward Bellamy:

“But why did not the people elect officials and representatives of their own class, who would look out for the interests of the masses?” […]
Continue reading