Sortition on Reddit

Reddit user subheight640 is a sortition advocate. He (or she) has been posting about sortition on multiple Reddit forums. His posts – such as this one – have garnered approvals from hundreds of users and has engaged a great number of people in discussions on this topic. This seems like a fairly effective way to get sortition more widely known and considered.

A Call to Arms

Dear Fellow Sortitionist: I urge you to join me in a letter writing campaign intended to raise public awareness here in the U.S.

I’ve written to the director of the Metropolitan Museum (in New York), requesting that the Greek wing host an exhibition on the subject of Athenian democracy. The letter is heartfelt but I am an unknown individual possessing no social or institutional connections – neither a donor, a scholar, or a socialite – I doubt very much that my missive will ever even make it past his secretary. But what if the director were to receive a dozen (or a hundred) similar letters? I think then his assistant would undoubtedly take notice and the director would most certainly give the idea serious consideration. Hence, my plea to the sortition community for a joint assault on the director’s inbox

To directly challenge someone’s mainstream political views (as sortitionists are wont to do) is usually an exercise in futility. But to question them indirectly, by contemplating the example of an exotic, ancient system of government, may just leave some wiggle room for the adjustment of hard held habitual beliefs. That’s the hope anyhow. The museum patron enters the exhibit as a die hard supporter of the 21’st Century “Democratic” status quo and exits harboring some well informed doubts. A sortition partisan in the making… This is what I would hope for anyhow, and so long as sortition remains unknown here in the U.S. activist projects such as this will remain the main focus of my energy.
Continue reading

Association Pour la Rotation Et la Sortition (L’APRES)

This post was written by NemoNihilis one of the co-founder of l’APRES (not my pseudonym). Come and visit our website https://sortition.fr

The goal of this association is to turn debates into discussions. Our objective is meta-political, that is to say we discuss the politic of how to do politic in order to promote diversity. We aim to provide tools for people fed up by a discourse monopolized by those who speak the loudest, or absent of the voices of those with less self assurance and crucially. We offer two solutions to these problems.

I. Rotating moderation

The moderator gives the floor to people asking to speak, or request to hear someone’s opinion. However, their work doesn’t end there and they can also choose to keep or change the topic(s) of discussion.

Traditionally, a group would elects a single moderator for the entire meeting, but our association proceeds differently. We rotate the role every X (often 20) minutes or less because the moderator can choose to end their mandate anytime even before it begins. It is then the turn of the person to their left to take over this role.

What about sortition in all of this? Continue reading

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

Deliberative assemblies are finding their feet – but also facing political barriers

On Friday the 16th of October, the Hannah Arendt Center at Bard College hosted a webinar entitled ‘Revitalizing Democracy: Sortition, Citizen Power, and Spaces of Freedom’, which you can watch here. The workshop heavily featured people putting sortition into practice right now, and so the overall focus was very much on deliberative assemblies in advisory roles, rather than non-deliberative juries or lawmaking roles. If you’d rather not spend the whole day watching a videoconference, here’s the CliffsNotes:

David Van Reybrouck, who gave one of the keynotes, helped design the new citizens’ council and assembly system in the parliament of the German-speaking region of Belgium – an area with only 76 000 citizens, but devolved powers similar to Scotland’s. The system involves a permanent citizens’ council and temporary citizens’ assemblies, both selected by sortition, as well as a permanent secretary who acts as a sort of ombudsman for the system. The council sets the agenda for the assemblies, and chases up their conclusions in the regional parliament – essentially acting as an official lobby group for the assemblies’ recommendations. Politicians have to report back to the council a year after each assembly, setting out how they’ve acted on their recommendations and, if they’ve deviated from them, why. In this respect it is a major step forward in the institutionalisation of sortition. Under the Belgian constitution, however, sortitional bodies cannot be given legislative power, so the assemblies are restricted to an advisory role until and unless momentum can be built for a constitutional amendment.

Continue reading

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.

Community Cooperative in Australia Conspicuously Selects Board via Sortition

The Kyneton and District Town Square Co-op set up as an umbrella organization of community groups to democratically manage a historic school building / town square in Australia has a constitution that requires some board members be chosen by sortition.

Scroll down on their home page to see a video of Nivek Thompson speak about sortition and pick five board members out of a hat. Also, several of the activists pose with a placard “Lottery Democracy Lunch” and a sign reads “Lottery democracy arrives in Kyneton.”

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

US Sortition Foundation meeting: Inside the first US climate change citizens’ assembly

Announcement by Owen Shaffer.

The next US Sortition Foundation online Chapter Meeting features an inside view of how a citizens’ assembly, and a movement, is built! Maxim Lowe and their team from Washington state are developing a citizens’ assembly to address climate change. They solicited the support of five state legislators, and all are working together to build the citizens’ assembly. More information about their movement can be found here. Note their media attention under “About Us.”

We meet online on Tuesday 7 July at 9pm Eastern US Time, 6pm Pacific. Email Owen Shaffer at dShaffer@Lander.edu for more information.