A short sortition debate

A short online discussion of sortition yields familiar arguments:

[S]ortition is a form of government based upon the drawing of officials by lottery. It was used in Ancient Greece and is rarely used now. To me, it seems a lot less corruptible than a regular democracy, it seems to me that it represents the people better, by literally selecting by random, rather than certain people picking certain people because he looks cool or “my dad met him”.

If you do it with a large enough pool of people it should represent the larger public well. It works with polling science I dont see why it wouldnt work there.

Most people are incompetent at their chosen profession. Why should we assume that if they are selected randomly they will behave anymore rationally than they do in other areas of their life?

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Two sortition papers published in Systems Thinking World Journal

Terry Bouricius and I have published two papers about sortition in an online publication called the Systems Thinking World journal. The first paper (published last year) is about Terry’s model of lawmaking by multiple bodies of randomly selected citizens. The second one (published today) is about a sortition-based model we developed together for accountability of the executive branch. I think both papers would interest people on this blog, and we would welcome comments.

Here are the abstracts of the two papers:

An Idealized Design for the Legislative Branch of Government

This paper presents an idealized design for a legislative system. The concept of idealized design is explained. The paper critiques two critical (and often taken for granted) features of the legislative branches of most contemporary democratic governments: legislators are chosen by election, and the same bodies perform all legislative and meta-legislative functions, for all laws. Seven problems with these two features are described. A new model of lawmaking is proposed, based on three concepts from ancient Athenian democracy — random selection, dividing legislative functions among multiple bodies, and the use of temporary bodies (like contemporary juries) for final decision making. The benefits of the model are laid out, and likely objections are addressed.

An Idealized Design for Government, Part 2: Executive Branch Accountability

In this paper, the authors continue to build on their proposed model for incorporating randomly selected citizens into the decision-making processes of government. The first article presented a case for the benefits of random selection; proposed a lawmaking process that replaces elected, all-purpose legislatures with multiple, limited-function bodies composed of randomly selected citizens; and identified possible objections to the model (see An Idealized Design for the Legislative Branch of Government, http://stwj.systemswiki.org/?p=1407). In the current article, the authors extend the model to the executive branch, discussing how redesigning the executive branch could improve accountability to the legislature and to the people. The potential for current executive branch designs to negatively affect performance and accountability is used to propose a new model that reduces the power of the executive branch, increases accountability, and has the potential to reduce corruption. The benefits of the model are outlined, and possible objections are addressed.