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.”

Étienne Chouard: Public decision-making from the perspective of the common good: Breaking out of the electoral trap

What follows is the table of contents of a 2016 essay by Étienne Chouard, which Chouard describes as “my most recent methodical comparison between election and sortition”. I will publish my translation to English of the essay in several parts. The original French version is here.

Public decision-making from the perspective of the common good: Breaking out of the electoral trap
A comparison between election and allotment of representatives
Étienne Chouard, 2016
(Original in French, translation to English by Yoram Gat, 2020.)

Part I. A comparison of the general strengths and weaknesses of elections and allotment of representatives

  • (i) Elections infantilize, and in this way paralyze, the voters. They discourage thinking and defending the common good (whereas sortition does not)
    • 1. By definition, elections are aristocratic, whereas sortition is democratic
    • 2. By definition, elections are an abdication, a renunciation of the exercising of one’s sovereignty oneself, it is delegation, it is the renunciation of legislation, whereas sortition is the assertion of sovereignty
    • 3. Elections infantilize, strip of responsibility, dissuade from doing what is right, and distance the people from politics and the common good, whereas sortition encourages, and promotes responsibility for, doing the right thing
  • Continue reading

Upcoming Sortition Foundation meeting

A note from Owen Shaffer of the Sortition Foundation:

The United States Chapter of the Sortition Foundation continues to have guest presenters at our online meeting every other month. This Sunday’s meeting features Linn Davis of Healthy Democracy! It begins at 4pm Eastern US time (3pm Central, 2pm Mountain and 1pm PCT).

Linn will explain HD’s unique form of Citizens Jury: the Citizens’ Initiative Review (CIR), which is established in Oregon state statute, and has since been replicated in five US states and two European countries. He will also explain HD’s new local government Citizens Jury (CJ) model and touch on future designs for larger-scale city, state, and national sortition-based task forces and Citizens Assemblies.

Time permitting, Linn will also explain about an exciting new initiative to synthesize several decades of CJ experience (from HD, the Jefferson Center, the newDemocracy Foundation, and others) into a mass-market CJ model that is low-cost, time-efficient, and easily replicated in cities anywhere with sticky policy questions but modest means.

Our group includes some folks you would recognize and has a healthy group of people that are new to sortition. If you would like to join the meeting, email me at dshaffer@lander.edu and I will send you the link. You can also join our group email for announcements at http://lists.sortitionfoundation.org/subscribe/usa and a Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/420337885380259/ as well.

Owen Shaffer, Convenor