Making sortition effective

with 4 comments

This isn’t an argument for sortition, but a couple proposals to consider when designing a sortition-based legislative.

1. Raise the minimum age.

It doesn’t have to be eighteen.  Setting the minimum age at twenty-five would mean almost everyone would have either higher education or five to ten years of work experience.  Legislators’ brains would be more fully developed and their opinions would be backed by independent experience in the world.  This would slightly increase the quality of the legislature without denying any citizen an eventual chance to join.

It’s true that a minimum age of twenty-five would underrepresent young people in general and younger-leaning groups in particular (Hispanics in the US, for example).  But the same could be said of any age requirement, making it a problem of degree and not kind.

2. Make votes anonymous.

Eliminating elections means elite interests can no longer disproportionately influence who makes up the government.  But citizen-legislators could still be bribed once in office, or promised lucrative future jobs in exchange for favorable votes.  Such corruption would be much more difficult if you could never be sure the person you bribed actually voted your way.

3. Let people kick out assholes.

A large body chosen by sortition might include a few people whose behavior makes democratic deliberation impossible.  If someone constantly speaks out of turn or harasses a fellow legislator, there should be some process by which a supermajority can eject them.


Written by pinkocrat

August 16, 2013 at 4:44 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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4 Responses

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  1. Hi Pinkocrat,

    For different reasons, I think all three suggestions are problematic. Regarding both minimum age and kicking out people, see here.

    The discussion may be more lively if we have it over at Equality-by-Lot. Would you like to cross-post this over there?

    Yoram Gat

    August 18, 2013 at 10:56 am

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