The End of Elections?

The convergence of advances in technology and research in emotions coupled to the drive to control the outcomes of elections is exposing a major problem in the United States, and possibly elsewhere. In this article I explain the problem and offer a familiar solution: citizens’ assemblies. Although not covered in the article, it indirectly offers a strong reason why our movement is running out of time.

We are moving toward a world where enough personally identifiable emotion data is becoming available to profile and subtly shape the thinking of a wide range of voters, which would give control of the outcomes of elections to those who own our data. This election singularity is almost invisible and, on the individual level, easily dismissed with a claim that “I won’t be influenced in this way.”

Mock Citizens’ Assembly

Want to experience a Citizens’ Assembly from the inside? Democracy Without Elections has teamed with Healthy Democracy and the Building a New Reality Foundation to put you in the middle of one!

Healthy Democracy will run a Mock Citizens’ Assembly that will be very close to the real thing. You can experience every part of a Citizens’ Assembly except that there would be no democratic lottery (sortition) to choose participants, a final report would not be written and the experience will be more compressed. There is no lottery as folks are self-selected because they want to experience a Citizens’ Assembly from the inside.

A Citizens’ Assembly must have an issue to settle, and ours will identify the best direction for our movement. Assuming only one direction could be supported at this time, should we focus on

  • using citizens’ assemblies to make recommendations to elected bodies, or
  • replacing legislators with citizens chosen by lottery

The cost for this experience is set at 3 self-selected levels: US$49, $89, $119. Pay what you can afford. If $49 is too much, contact us and we will work something out. Precocious 13 – 18 year olds are free with a paying adult.

Wonder what it would be like to be a facilitator at a Citizens’ Assembly (CA)? You can try it out as well! While it does not prepare you to be a professional facilitator, a special training session will happen prior to the Mock CA. A facilitator focuses on the meeting process and how the group is working, but does not contribute to the actual discussion. Participants in that training session will serve as novice facilitators during the Mock CA. Depending on the numbers, you would be a facilitator at times and a participant in the Mock CA. The cost for both the facilitator training and the Mock CA is, again, at 3 self-selected levels: US$99, $179, $229.

It all starts in February, and will be on Zoom on these dates:

  • February 19 (facilitator ‘training’)
  • February 26 and March 5 (Mock CA)

The times for each Saturday session are are set to include interested people in Europe, Africa, and across North and South America. All times are pegged to the United States Pacific Standard Time, so please verify the time in your own area.

  • Hawaii time: 7 – 9am, 10 – 12pm
  • Pacific US time: 9 – 11am, 12 – 2pm
  • Eastern US time: 12 – 2pm, 3 – 5pm
  • United Kingdom, Portugal, Ghana: 5 – 7pm, 8 – 10pm
  • Central Europe, Tunisia: 6 – 8pm, 9 – 11pm

There are limited spaces; click here to sign up! Contact me if you have questions.

Owen Shaffer

01shaffer@gmail.com

Democracy Without Elections

Democracy Without Elections is a U.S. 501(c)3 registered nonprofit organization.

Yuval Harari on sortition?

“If you want power, at some point you will have to spread fictions. If you want to know the truth about the world, at some point you will have to renounce power.” Yuval Harari in 21 Lessons for the 21st Century.

Citizens’ assemblies are much more about truth, and not power. Harari seems to present a lot of reasons why we need CAs, but never mentions them. Has there ever been a connection between him and sortition / CAs?

Sortition in Government Series

Terry Bouricius will be leading a series of presentations on applying sortition to government at the next several monthly meetings of Democracy Without Elections, formerly the United States Chapter of the Sortition Foundation. The next monthly meeting will be held online on Tuesday 15 December at 9pm Eastern, 6 Pacific (US time). Terry’s topic is “Underlying legitimacy of election vs. sortition,” and further described as…

“Both election and sortition claim to be representative forms of democracy, but they have very different historic roots and very different bases for legitimacy. The different methods are likely to deliver very different policy outcomes as well. Law making using sortition dates back thousands of years, and is recently undergoing a resurgence.”

The meeting includes reports from Interest Groups and from our new Board of Directors. Contact Owen for access to the meeting.

Future online meeting presentations in this series will include discussions on

  • Why elections are a bad tool for running a democracy
  • Sortition representation and accountability
  • Why having one chamber elected and one chamber by sortition is problematic
  • How to organize law-making with sortition
  • Aspects of Sortition: impartiality, anti-corruption, representativeness, diversity benefits
  • Sortition role in the executive branch
  • Transition strategies to sortition democracy

View from participants of a citizens’ assembly

This is published with a few days’ delay – too late for readers to join the meeting being announced. If you are a contributor submitting a time sensitive post, please email Yoram Gat to make sure it is published promptly.

The US Chapter of the Sortition Foundation, now known as Democracy Without Elections, have 2 special guest speakers at our Chapter Meeting on Tuesday 13 October at 9pm Eastern US time; both were participants in a citizens’ assembly. They are from opposite ends of the political spectrum, and became friends.

If you would like join us and hear their perspective of being on the inside of a citizens’ assembly, contact me.

Sortition to select a Board of Directors

The US Chapter of the Sortition Foundation is changing its name to Democracy Without Elections. We are still affiliated with the Sortition Foundation.

We will be using an online democratic lottery on Sunday to select nine Directors for our new Board from our 80+ members. No stratification will be used, and no preference given to whether a person is active or not. Do you know of any Boards who use sortition to select their Directors?

We have a new website: https://www.democracywithoutelections.org/. It was determined that the website will be geared towards people who have just heard about democratic lotteries. Contact me if you have suggestions for the website. Obviously the citizens’ assembly and history sections need expansion.

Consensus in this group

I would like to identify the ideas held by members of this group that reach the level of consensus. Can I assume that there is a general consensus that sortition is better than elections?

At the other end, there appears to not be consensus that using sortition to replace elections in a legislative body can be accomplished using one sortition-selected body that does it all vs. an agenda-setting sortition-selected body working in conjunction with one or more policy-deciding mini-publics. And there is not consensus about whether a bicameral legislature is effective if one chamber is elected and one is sortition-selected.

What are the ideas in the group that actually reach the level of consensus?

Deliberation seminar

What happens once a congress, a regional legislature or a citizens’ assembly is created with sortition? Some (many?) feel that deliberation should be the guiding principle behind operating the resulting body.

The US Chapter of the Sortition Foundation and the Deliberation Gateway Network are co-hosting the first of a series of seminars called “Unlocking Deliberation” to help individuals and groups learn how to bring the wide range of modern deliberative techniques to bear on the collective problems that confront them. This first event is titled “Why Deliberate?” and is online this Sunday at 5pm Pacific, 8pm Eastern US time. More information and registration can be found at here