Legislature by Lot

[Note: this has been adapted from an orginial blog post here: http://www.bretthennig.com/legislature_by_lot]


From Friday to Sunday this weekend (September 15-17) the co-founder and director of the Sortition Foundation, Brett Hennig, will be joining a group of academics, researchers and activists gathering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to discuss the pros and cons of a “Legislature by Lot” – a parliament, senate or congress selected by sortition.

The workshop is being organised by Professor John Gastil (Penn State) and Professor Erik Olin Wright (University of Wisconsin-Madison) who have drafted the principal proposal that attendees are responding to. Their proposal is for a bicameral legislature where one chamber is elected and one is selected using sortition.

Deepening Democracy CoverThe intended outcome of the workshop will be a book whose prospective title is “Legislature by Lot: An Alternative Design for Deliberative Governance”, to be published by Verso as part of of the Real Utopias series.

The workshop will be attended by many well know academics and practitioners in the field of deliberative and participatory democracy, including Lyn CarsonNed CrosbyJim FishkinArchon FungJane MansbridgeYves SintomerGraham Smith and many others.

Workshop session titles include “Legislatures by lot in the context of major democratic reforms”, “From deliberative to radical democracy? Sortition and politics in the 21st century”, “On democratic representation and accountability” and “Random assemblies for law-making? Prospects and limits”.

It promises to be an interesting and stimulating weekend of discussion about if and how sortition should be introduced into the legislative branch of government – and the resulting book (probably appearing in late 2018) should make a major contribution to the debate about radical but achievable changes that could be made to better our democracies.

13 Responses

  1. Hello Brett, I don’t know if our proposal has something interesting for the workshop because it is not “bicameral” (altough it can be adapted)
    You can find the proposal and the criteria uses for development here


  2. I do see now that Archong Fung is attending. I worked for him for a while on Participedia.net detaecting and liquidating “spam” at the wiki.


  3. Good job Brett – great to see that you’re building momentum on these ideas and drawing some heavy hitters in the academic space.

    I should have a rough cut of the first of the nine short films we talked about in Edinburgh by the weekend – about 19mins or so – one to share with a few of your summiteers in a quieter moment maybe.


  4. Hi Brett, is there a link to the workshop programme? I couldn’t see it on your post.


  5. Other Equality by Lot posters who are presenting papers at the conference include me (Terrill Bouricius), David Schecter and Wallace Campbell.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Could someone please share the programme link for this workshop with us?


  7. Keith, there is no public schedule or workshop programme – and the private one sent to attendees includes email addresses and other personal data that I will not put online.


  8. Goodness me, sounds like a real elite event (irony intended)!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Seriously though, it’s not uncommon for speakers at workshops like this to be by invitation only, but I wonder why the meeting itself is not open to the hoi polloi? The speakers at the sortition seminars at Sciences Po were invitation only, but the organisers went out of their way to publicise the event (particularly on this forum). So why is this particular workshop in camera? — I would have loved to attend. Seems strange given that most sortition advocates are so strongly opposed to elitism. If they were worried it would be oversubscribed, they could always allocate tickets by lot.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Keith,
    Not being an academic, I don’t know what is customary about such things, but in this case the conveners Gastil and Wright) are doing a book for Verso Publishing, and invited a group of people to submit papers, with the intention that most of them would be refined following input at this “conference” and ultimately become chapters of the book they are editing. So this isn’t a typical conference… more a meeting of authors of a book. I don’t know how the conveners decided which authors to invite. There are a few others in attendance they invited to help with giving feedback on the papers, such as a couple of graduate students and scholars like Jane Mansbridge.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Thanks for the clarification Terry. I was puzzled as to why what was effectively a private meeting was advertised on a forum, but I guess that’s all part of the Sortition Foundation PR effort.


  12. […] speaking world, academics devoted some attention to sortition in workshops at McGill university and at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Outside of academia, a fairly robust polemic for sortition appeared in the US magazine Current […]


  13. […] Fishkin’s contribution to the September 2017 workshop “Legislature by Lot” was titled “Random Assemblies for Lawmaking? Prospects and […]


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