Frequently Asked Questions

accuracy
accuracy

(thanks to Yoram Gat, statistician)

Margin of error is not exactly the right term. 'Margin of error' is used when using a proportion in a sample to estimate the proportion in the population. In our case the proportion in the population is known (50.8% women; 49.2% men), and we wish to bound the proportion in a sample. I would use something like “random fluctuation”.

To simplify, let us say the proportion is exactly 50-50. So in the case of a sample of 500, you will have at least 239–261 about 70% of the time, at least 227–273 about 95% of the time, and at least 216–284 about 99.5% of the time.

The chance of having a split that is worse than 200/300 is about 1:100,000.

The chance that either there would be more than 350 men or more than 350 women in the group of 500 is less than 0.2 millionth of a millionth of a millionth (2 x 10^-19)

In making these calculations, the size of the population doesn’t matter unless it is tiny – the statements are as true for a city of 100,000 as they are for a country of hundreds of millions. It is only the size of the sample that matters. As a rule of thumb, on each particular issue the sampling error is about 1 / (2 sqrt(n)), where n is the size of the sample.

This means, further, that if any group makes less than 40% of the population, then the chance that it will form a majority in a group of 500 randomly selected people is less than 3 in a million.

action
action

Attention to the sortitional selection of decision-making bodies is increasing through publications and online forums. You can join our efforts in this in several ways:

* Supporting Common Lot Productions. We sell DVDs and are available for presentations. We do not want to be a non-profit venture because we believe that the marketplace of ideas can provide. We are looking for financial advisors who can guide us to profitability.

* Engaging with us on media productions. We have a full-length, big budget, high concept comic screenplay about "the common lot". We do not have the capacity to take this forward. We welcome collaborators.

* Suggesting other promotional manifestations of sortition. The idea is highly malleable. We can imagine live performances, other media productions and gallery installations in a wide variety of venues, exploring the concept of randomness. Again, we welcome collaborators and opportunities to explore these options.

* Encouraging viral expansion through social networking. Become a member of our Facebook page "Common Lot Productions" and 'like' us to all your 'friends'.

* Experimenting with random selection in your lives, individually and corporately. Remember, though, that if your goal is proportional representation, statistical theory -- the Law of Large Numbers -- states that the greater the number in the selection pool, the closer proportional representation will be assured. And vice versa.

* Joining our Common Lot Productions 'think tank' by sending your ideas about how to make this a financially self-supporting endeavor as well as one that contributes to the larger movement of realizing The Next Step for Democracy. E-mail: info@TheCommonLot.com.

advisory boards
advisory boards

What might be intermediate steps towards realizing a Citizen Legislature?

Advisory bodies of randomly chosen citizens already are becoming commonplace. The more these examples demonstrate the wisdom of ‘the people’, the sooner such bodies can graduate from advisers to policy makers.

See, among others, The Center for Deliberative Democracy, The Jefferson Center for New Democratic Processes, Citizen Consensus Councils, National Issues Forum, The National Initiative for Democracy, Everyday Democracy, Public Agenda, International Association for Public Participation, National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation, America Speaks and the Deliberative Democracy Consortium.

For bicameral legislatures some thinkers propose replacing the upper chamber with an allotted one and keeping the lower elected chamber.
In the U.S. Congress the Senate would be replaced by a sortitionally-chosen Citizens Chamber. Current procedural rules would remain as they are. [It is worth noting that under present U.S. Senate rules of filibuster, 40 Senators representing less than 10% of the population can block legislation.]
It is assumed that the Citizens Chamber would prove its worth over time and would likely stimulate demand for a unicameral Citizens Legislature.

advisory role
advisory role

Attention to the sortitional selection of decision-making bodies is increasing through publications and online forums. You can join our efforts in this in several ways:

* Supporting Common Lot Productions. We sell DVDs and are available for presentations. We do not want to be a non-profit venture because we believe that the marketplace of ideas can provide. We are looking for financial advisors who can guide us to profitability.

* Engaging with us on media productions. We have a full-length, big budget, high concept comic screenplay about "the common lot". We do not have the capacity to take this forward. We welcome collaborators.

* Suggesting other promotional manifestations of sortition. The idea is highly malleable. We can imagine live performances, other media productions and gallery installations in a wide variety of venues, exploring the concept of randomness. Again, we welcome collaborators and opportunities to explore these options.

* Encouraging viral expansion through social networking. Become a member of our Facebook page "Common Lot Productions" and 'like' us to all your 'friends'.

* Experimenting with random selection in your lives, individually and corporately. Remember, though, that if your goal is proportional representation, statistical theory -- the Law of Large Numbers -- states that the greater the number in the selection pool, the closer proportional representation will be assured. And vice versa.

* Joining our Common Lot Productions 'think tank' by sending your ideas about how to make this a financially self-supporting endeavor as well as one that contributes to the larger movement of realizing The Next Step for Democracy. E-mail: info@TheCommonLot.com.

allowances
allowances

The base annual salary for Senators and Representatives in 2010 is $174,000. In addition there are retirement and health benefits, expense allowances, franking privilege, personal staff allowance and other perquisites.

The 2010 median household income in the United States is $49,777.

Since a proportionally representative Citizen Legislature would contain half above and half below the median income, the representatives might want to peg the salary to a certain percentage of that median.

[In The Common Lot: Next Step for Democracy it is proposed that the salary be exactly the national median. Upon further reflection however, considering the considerable dislocation required and effort demanded, perhaps the national median plus 50% would be appropriate and adequate.]

In any case, this would be a matter for considered debate, as it always is and will remain.

Athenian democracy
Athenian democracy

Sortitional selection was a central and defining feature of the first Athenian democracy. It was used to select both legislative and administrative functions. There were also a small number of meritocratic elective offices, particularly for the military and the treasury.

Sortitional selection was also used in Florence and Venice in the late medieval period. The system was instituted in order to break the power of political factions. Sortition was also used during the French Revolution.

Sortition is also used by the Amish to choose their bishops.

Jury selection in U.S. courts is initially through sortition.

Sortition has been widely used in military drafts; in choosing recipients of organ transplants; in allotting places for children in magnet or charter schools; in dispensing tickets to entertainment or sporting events.

A long list of examples can be found in Wikipedia's entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sortition#Examples

ballot
ballot

First of all, of course the ballot is preferred to the bullet.

The ballot however requires a certain type of person to put him- or herself up for candidacy. Such a person is necessarily of a particular psychological profile. That profile is only a small sub-section of the populace. Balloting -- in and of itself -- prevents realization of government 'by' the people.

Furthermore there are the obvious drawbacks: financial wherewithal, rhetorical adroitness, media visage.

Finally, the campaign is a contest. Many are attracted to the blood sport of it. That contest unfortunately drives the candidates to desperate measures -- not only the attack ads that poison civil discourse, but also the unavoidable compulsion to make promises and to take positions whose purpose is merely to win the election.

These reasons lead us to believe that sortitional selection of policy-making bodies will be the equitable, inclusive and wise 'next step for democracy'.

balloting
balloting

First of all, of course the ballot is preferred to the bullet.

The ballot however requires a certain type of person to put him- or herself up for candidacy. Such a person is necessarily of a particular psychological profile. That profile is only a small sub-section of the populace. Balloting -- in and of itself -- prevents realization of government 'by' the people.

Furthermore there are the obvious drawbacks: financial wherewithal, rhetorical adroitness, media visage.

Finally, the campaign is a contest. Many are attracted to the blood sport of it. That contest unfortunately drives the candidates to desperate measures -- not only the attack ads that poison civil discourse, but also the unavoidable compulsion to make promises and to take positions whose purpose is merely to win the election.

These reasons lead us to believe that sortitional selection of policy-making bodies will be the equitable, inclusive and wise 'next step for democracy'.

benefits
benefits

The base annual salary for Senators and Representatives in 2010 is $174,000. In addition there are retirement and health benefits, expense allowances, franking privilege, personal staff allowance and other perquisites.

The 2010 median household income in the United States is $49,777.

Since a proportionally representative Citizen Legislature would contain half above and half below the median income, the representatives might want to peg the salary to a certain percentage of that median.

[In The Common Lot: Next Step for Democracy it is proposed that the salary be exactly the national median. Upon further reflection however, considering the considerable dislocation required and effort demanded, perhaps the national median plus 50% would be appropriate and adequate.]

In any case, this would be a matter for considered debate, as it always is and will remain.

campaign
campaign

Like every other measure, visionary leadership would be as prevalent in a proportionally representative legislature as it is in the general population. Some may criticize this fact by saying that this is exactly why we force candidates to engage in combative campaigns … so that voters can choose the ‘best’. Unfortunately what is chosen in that case is ‘the most combative’.

But more important than 'visionary leadership' among the legislators themselves is the fact that visionary leadership will be available, as it is now, from outside sources -- from lobbyists, citizens, leaders of all stripes and other petitioners. The actual architects of most laws in current legislatures are rarely the elected congresspersons but instead their staff and their various committees of advisors. The Senators and Reps are simply the deciders who make the choices among all the options presented. Quite rarely is leadership coupled with electability, which is the precise point of sortition -- to remove the influence of money, influence-peddling and power-brokering from the process by which our leaders are selected.

citizen action
citizen action

If you are concerned about your neighbor's lot (yard, home, acreage ... not, that is, his or her well-being) see
http://www.seeclickfix.com/

citizen juries
citizen juries

What might be intermediate steps towards realizing a Citizen Legislature?

Advisory bodies of randomly chosen citizens already are becoming commonplace. The more these examples demonstrate the wisdom of ‘the people’, the sooner such bodies can graduate from advisers to policy makers.

See, among others, The Center for Deliberative Democracy, The Jefferson Center for New Democratic Processes, Citizen Consensus Councils, National Issues Forum, The National Initiative for Democracy, Everyday Democracy, Public Agenda, International Association for Public Participation, National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation, America Speaks and the Deliberative Democracy Consortium.

For bicameral legislatures some thinkers propose replacing the upper chamber with an allotted one and keeping the lower elected chamber.
In the U.S. Congress the Senate would be replaced by a sortitionally-chosen Citizens Chamber. Current procedural rules would remain as they are. [It is worth noting that under present U.S. Senate rules of filibuster, 40 Senators representing less than 10% of the population can block legislation.]
It is assumed that the Citizens Chamber would prove its worth over time and would likely stimulate demand for a unicameral Citizens Legislature.

collaboration
collaboration

Attention to the sortitional selection of decision-making bodies is increasing through publications and online forums. You can join our efforts in this in several ways:

* Supporting Common Lot Productions. We sell DVDs and are available for presentations. We do not want to be a non-profit venture because we believe that the marketplace of ideas can provide. We are looking for financial advisors who can guide us to profitability.

* Engaging with us on media productions. We have a full-length, big budget, high concept comic screenplay about "the common lot". We do not have the capacity to take this forward. We welcome collaborators.

* Suggesting other promotional manifestations of sortition. The idea is highly malleable. We can imagine live performances, other media productions and gallery installations in a wide variety of venues, exploring the concept of randomness. Again, we welcome collaborators and opportunities to explore these options.

* Encouraging viral expansion through social networking. Become a member of our Facebook page "Common Lot Productions" and 'like' us to all your 'friends'.

* Experimenting with random selection in your lives, individually and corporately. Remember, though, that if your goal is proportional representation, statistical theory -- the Law of Large Numbers -- states that the greater the number in the selection pool, the closer proportional representation will be assured. And vice versa.

* Joining our Common Lot Productions 'think tank' by sending your ideas about how to make this a financially self-supporting endeavor as well as one that contributes to the larger movement of realizing The Next Step for Democracy. E-mail: info@TheCommonLot.com.

compensation
compensation

The base annual salary for Senators and Representatives in 2010 is $174,000. In addition there are retirement and health benefits, expense allowances, franking privilege, personal staff allowance and other perquisites.

The 2010 median household income in the United States is $49,777.

Since a proportionally representative Citizen Legislature would contain half above and half below the median income, the representatives might want to peg the salary to a certain percentage of that median.

[In The Common Lot: Next Step for Democracy it is proposed that the salary be exactly the national median. Upon further reflection however, considering the considerable dislocation required and effort demanded, perhaps the national median plus 50% would be appropriate and adequate.]

In any case, this would be a matter for considered debate, as it always is and will remain.

competition
competition

First of all, of course the ballot is preferred to the bullet.

The ballot however requires a certain type of person to put him- or herself up for candidacy. Such a person is necessarily of a particular psychological profile. That profile is only a small sub-section of the populace. Balloting -- in and of itself -- prevents realization of government 'by' the people.

Furthermore there are the obvious drawbacks: financial wherewithal, rhetorical adroitness, media visage.

Finally, the campaign is a contest. Many are attracted to the blood sport of it. That contest unfortunately drives the candidates to desperate measures -- not only the attack ads that poison civil discourse, but also the unavoidable compulsion to make promises and to take positions whose purpose is merely to win the election.

These reasons lead us to believe that sortitional selection of policy-making bodies will be the equitable, inclusive and wise 'next step for democracy'.

Like every other measure, visionary leadership would be as prevalent in a proportionally representative legislature as it is in the general population. Some may criticize this fact by saying that this is exactly why we force candidates to engage in combative campaigns … so that voters can choose the ‘best’. Unfortunately what is chosen in that case is ‘the most combative’.

But more important than 'visionary leadership' among the legislators themselves is the fact that visionary leadership will be available, as it is now, from outside sources -- from lobbyists, citizens, leaders of all stripes and other petitioners. The actual architects of most laws in current legislatures are rarely the elected congresspersons but instead their staff and their various committees of advisors. The Senators and Reps are simply the deciders who make the choices among all the options presented. Quite rarely is leadership coupled with electability, which is the precise point of sortition -- to remove the influence of money, influence-peddling and power-brokering from the process by which our leaders are selected.

Constitutional issues
Constitutional issues

The First Article, Section Four, of the US Constitution says:
==========
The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof
==========
That seems clear a state can choose whatever 'manner' it wishes to hold an election.
Of course the law is always open to interpretation. But it seems that constitutionally a lottery would be allowed.

Several states do already mandate a flip of the coin to settle tied local elections.

contest
contest

First of all, of course the ballot is preferred to the bullet.

The ballot however requires a certain type of person to put him- or herself up for candidacy. Such a person is necessarily of a particular psychological profile. That profile is only a small sub-section of the populace. Balloting -- in and of itself -- prevents realization of government 'by' the people.

Furthermore there are the obvious drawbacks: financial wherewithal, rhetorical adroitness, media visage.

Finally, the campaign is a contest. Many are attracted to the blood sport of it. That contest unfortunately drives the candidates to desperate measures -- not only the attack ads that poison civil discourse, but also the unavoidable compulsion to make promises and to take positions whose purpose is merely to win the election.

These reasons lead us to believe that sortitional selection of policy-making bodies will be the equitable, inclusive and wise 'next step for democracy'.

contribution
contribution

Attention to the sortitional selection of decision-making bodies is increasing through publications and online forums. You can join our efforts in this in several ways:

* Supporting Common Lot Productions. We sell DVDs and are available for presentations. We do not want to be a non-profit venture because we believe that the marketplace of ideas can provide. We are looking for financial advisors who can guide us to profitability.

* Engaging with us on media productions. We have a full-length, big budget, high concept comic screenplay about "the common lot". We do not have the capacity to take this forward. We welcome collaborators.

* Suggesting other promotional manifestations of sortition. The idea is highly malleable. We can imagine live performances, other media productions and gallery installations in a wide variety of venues, exploring the concept of randomness. Again, we welcome collaborators and opportunities to explore these options.

* Encouraging viral expansion through social networking. Become a member of our Facebook page "Common Lot Productions" and 'like' us to all your 'friends'.

* Experimenting with random selection in your lives, individually and corporately. Remember, though, that if your goal is proportional representation, statistical theory -- the Law of Large Numbers -- states that the greater the number in the selection pool, the closer proportional representation will be assured. And vice versa.

* Joining our Common Lot Productions 'think tank' by sending your ideas about how to make this a financially self-supporting endeavor as well as one that contributes to the larger movement of realizing The Next Step for Democracy. E-mail: info@TheCommonLot.com.

deliberative democracy
deliberative democracy

What might be intermediate steps towards realizing a Citizen Legislature?

Advisory bodies of randomly chosen citizens already are becoming commonplace. The more these examples demonstrate the wisdom of ‘the people’, the sooner such bodies can graduate from advisers to policy makers.

See, among others, The Center for Deliberative Democracy, The Jefferson Center for New Democratic Processes, Citizen Consensus Councils, National Issues Forum, The National Initiative for Democracy, Everyday Democracy, Public Agenda, International Association for Public Participation, National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation, America Speaks and the Deliberative Democracy Consortium.

For bicameral legislatures some thinkers propose replacing the upper chamber with an allotted one and keeping the lower elected chamber.
In the U.S. Congress the Senate would be replaced by a sortitionally-chosen Citizens Chamber. Current procedural rules would remain as they are. [It is worth noting that under present U.S. Senate rules of filibuster, 40 Senators representing less than 10% of the population can block legislation.]
It is assumed that the Citizens Chamber would prove its worth over time and would likely stimulate demand for a unicameral Citizens Legislature.

demagoguery
demagoguery

Even if everyone had internet access or some other way to register their opinion, there are several problems with everyone voting on everything.

Most people do not have time or interest to properly deliberate about complex social issues.

Plebiscites, referenda and polls about complicated matters mostly reflect the opinions of the uninformed.

Demagogues can easily manipulate uninformed masses with emotional but untrue appeals.

democracy
democracy

Attention to the sortitional selection of decision-making bodies is increasing through publications and online forums. You can join our efforts in this in several ways:

* Supporting Common Lot Productions. We sell DVDs and are available for presentations. We do not want to be a non-profit venture because we believe that the marketplace of ideas can provide. We are looking for financial advisors who can guide us to profitability.

* Engaging with us on media productions. We have a full-length, big budget, high concept comic screenplay about "the common lot". We do not have the capacity to take this forward. We welcome collaborators.

* Suggesting other promotional manifestations of sortition. The idea is highly malleable. We can imagine live performances, other media productions and gallery installations in a wide variety of venues, exploring the concept of randomness. Again, we welcome collaborators and opportunities to explore these options.

* Encouraging viral expansion through social networking. Become a member of our Facebook page "Common Lot Productions" and 'like' us to all your 'friends'.

* Experimenting with random selection in your lives, individually and corporately. Remember, though, that if your goal is proportional representation, statistical theory -- the Law of Large Numbers -- states that the greater the number in the selection pool, the closer proportional representation will be assured. And vice versa.

* Joining our Common Lot Productions 'think tank' by sending your ideas about how to make this a financially self-supporting endeavor as well as one that contributes to the larger movement of realizing The Next Step for Democracy. E-mail: info@TheCommonLot.com.

demographic proportionality
demographic proportionality

(thanks to Yoram Gat, statistician)

Margin of error is not exactly the right term. 'Margin of error' is used when using a proportion in a sample to estimate the proportion in the population. In our case the proportion in the population is known (50.8% women; 49.2% men), and we wish to bound the proportion in a sample. I would use something like “random fluctuation”.

To simplify, let us say the proportion is exactly 50-50. So in the case of a sample of 500, you will have at least 239–261 about 70% of the time, at least 227–273 about 95% of the time, and at least 216–284 about 99.5% of the time.

The chance of having a split that is worse than 200/300 is about 1:100,000.

The chance that either there would be more than 350 men or more than 350 women in the group of 500 is less than 0.2 millionth of a millionth of a millionth (2 x 10^-19)

In making these calculations, the size of the population doesn’t matter unless it is tiny – the statements are as true for a city of 100,000 as they are for a country of hundreds of millions. It is only the size of the sample that matters. As a rule of thumb, on each particular issue the sampling error is about 1 / (2 sqrt(n)), where n is the size of the sample.

This means, further, that if any group makes less than 40% of the population, then the chance that it will form a majority in a group of 500 randomly selected people is less than 3 in a million.

elections
elections

First of all, of course the ballot is preferred to the bullet.

The ballot however requires a certain type of person to put him- or herself up for candidacy. Such a person is necessarily of a particular psychological profile. That profile is only a small sub-section of the populace. Balloting -- in and of itself -- prevents realization of government 'by' the people.

Furthermore there are the obvious drawbacks: financial wherewithal, rhetorical adroitness, media visage.

Finally, the campaign is a contest. Many are attracted to the blood sport of it. That contest unfortunately drives the candidates to desperate measures -- not only the attack ads that poison civil discourse, but also the unavoidable compulsion to make promises and to take positions whose purpose is merely to win the election.

These reasons lead us to believe that sortitional selection of policy-making bodies will be the equitable, inclusive and wise 'next step for democracy'.

electoral combat
electoral combat

Like every other measure, visionary leadership would be as prevalent in a proportionally representative legislature as it is in the general population. Some may criticize this fact by saying that this is exactly why we force candidates to engage in combative campaigns … so that voters can choose the ‘best’. Unfortunately what is chosen in that case is ‘the most combative’.

But more important than 'visionary leadership' among the legislators themselves is the fact that visionary leadership will be available, as it is now, from outside sources -- from lobbyists, citizens, leaders of all stripes and other petitioners. The actual architects of most laws in current legislatures are rarely the elected congresspersons but instead their staff and their various committees of advisors. The Senators and Reps are simply the deciders who make the choices among all the options presented. Quite rarely is leadership coupled with electability, which is the precise point of sortition -- to remove the influence of money, influence-peddling and power-brokering from the process by which our leaders are selected.

equality
equality

The definition of 'proportional representation' is contested. Variants include Mixed-member, Partly-list, Single transferable vote, Cumulative voting and others. None of these are intended to extend to a random selection of citizens in order to select a representative sample of the population.

Given the limitations of the definition, the fact is that more than half of the world's countries use some form of 'proportional representation', usually connected to balloting through a political party.

examples
examples

Sortitional selection was a central and defining feature of the first Athenian democracy. It was used to select both legislative and administrative functions. There were also a small number of meritocratic elective offices, particularly for the military and the treasury.

Sortitional selection was also used in Florence and Venice in the late medieval period. The system was instituted in order to break the power of political factions. Sortition was also used during the French Revolution.

Sortition is also used by the Amish to choose their bishops.

Jury selection in U.S. courts is initially through sortition.

Sortition has been widely used in military drafts; in choosing recipients of organ transplants; in allotting places for children in magnet or charter schools; in dispensing tickets to entertainment or sporting events.

A long list of examples can be found in Wikipedia's entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sortition#Examples

Attention to the sortitional selection of decision-making bodies is increasing through publications and online forums. You can join our efforts in this in several ways:

* Supporting Common Lot Productions. We sell DVDs and are available for presentations. We do not want to be a non-profit venture because we believe that the marketplace of ideas can provide. We are looking for financial advisors who can guide us to profitability.

* Engaging with us on media productions. We have a full-length, big budget, high concept comic screenplay about "the common lot". We do not have the capacity to take this forward. We welcome collaborators.

* Suggesting other promotional manifestations of sortition. The idea is highly malleable. We can imagine live performances, other media productions and gallery installations in a wide variety of venues, exploring the concept of randomness. Again, we welcome collaborators and opportunities to explore these options.

* Encouraging viral expansion through social networking. Become a member of our Facebook page "Common Lot Productions" and 'like' us to all your 'friends'.

* Experimenting with random selection in your lives, individually and corporately. Remember, though, that if your goal is proportional representation, statistical theory -- the Law of Large Numbers -- states that the greater the number in the selection pool, the closer proportional representation will be assured. And vice versa.

* Joining our Common Lot Productions 'think tank' by sending your ideas about how to make this a financially self-supporting endeavor as well as one that contributes to the larger movement of realizing The Next Step for Democracy. E-mail: info@TheCommonLot.com.

Facebook
Facebook

Attention to the sortitional selection of decision-making bodies is increasing through publications and online forums. You can join our efforts in this in several ways:

* Supporting Common Lot Productions. We sell DVDs and are available for presentations. We do not want to be a non-profit venture because we believe that the marketplace of ideas can provide. We are looking for financial advisors who can guide us to profitability.

* Engaging with us on media productions. We have a full-length, big budget, high concept comic screenplay about "the common lot". We do not have the capacity to take this forward. We welcome collaborators.

* Suggesting other promotional manifestations of sortition. The idea is highly malleable. We can imagine live performances, other media productions and gallery installations in a wide variety of venues, exploring the concept of randomness. Again, we welcome collaborators and opportunities to explore these options.

* Encouraging viral expansion through social networking. Become a member of our Facebook page "Common Lot Productions" and 'like' us to all your 'friends'.

* Experimenting with random selection in your lives, individually and corporately. Remember, though, that if your goal is proportional representation, statistical theory -- the Law of Large Numbers -- states that the greater the number in the selection pool, the closer proportional representation will be assured. And vice versa.

* Joining our Common Lot Productions 'think tank' by sending your ideas about how to make this a financially self-supporting endeavor as well as one that contributes to the larger movement of realizing The Next Step for Democracy. E-mail: info@TheCommonLot.com.

financial support
financial support

Attention to the sortitional selection of decision-making bodies is increasing through publications and online forums. You can join our efforts in this in several ways:

* Supporting Common Lot Productions. We sell DVDs and are available for presentations. We do not want to be a non-profit venture because we believe that the marketplace of ideas can provide. We are looking for financial advisors who can guide us to profitability.

* Engaging with us on media productions. We have a full-length, big budget, high concept comic screenplay about "the common lot". We do not have the capacity to take this forward. We welcome collaborators.

* Suggesting other promotional manifestations of sortition. The idea is highly malleable. We can imagine live performances, other media productions and gallery installations in a wide variety of venues, exploring the concept of randomness. Again, we welcome collaborators and opportunities to explore these options.

* Encouraging viral expansion through social networking. Become a member of our Facebook page "Common Lot Productions" and 'like' us to all your 'friends'.

* Experimenting with random selection in your lives, individually and corporately. Remember, though, that if your goal is proportional representation, statistical theory -- the Law of Large Numbers -- states that the greater the number in the selection pool, the closer proportional representation will be assured. And vice versa.

* Joining our Common Lot Productions 'think tank' by sending your ideas about how to make this a financially self-supporting endeavor as well as one that contributes to the larger movement of realizing The Next Step for Democracy. E-mail: info@TheCommonLot.com.

funding
funding

Remembering what Mohandas Gandhi said: "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."
Those who have most to lose from an equitable and legitimate decision-making process will not want to consider fundamental change. At present they are 'ignoring' because few citizens are yet aware of any options.

The first major obstacle, then, is to raise awareness about what "the next step for democracy" might be.

Currently Common Lot Productions is seeking collaborators and financial underwriters for:
1.) A Road Trip for Democracy -- a nationwide tour presenting, succinctly and creatively, a half-dozen options of wide political spectrum to systemically create a 'government by the people';
2.) A feature-length documentary or docu-drama or television series;
3.) Fictional or conceptual productions: film, stage, installation or site-specific performance.
All three of these avenues are being pursued.

historical examples
historical examples

Sortitional selection was a central and defining feature of the first Athenian democracy. It was used to select both legislative and administrative functions. There were also a small number of meritocratic elective offices, particularly for the military and the treasury.

Sortitional selection was also used in Florence and Venice in the late medieval period. The system was instituted in order to break the power of political factions. Sortition was also used during the French Revolution.

Sortition is also used by the Amish to choose their bishops.

Jury selection in U.S. courts is initially through sortition.

Sortition has been widely used in military drafts; in choosing recipients of organ transplants; in allotting places for children in magnet or charter schools; in dispensing tickets to entertainment or sporting events.

A long list of examples can be found in Wikipedia's entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sortition#Examples

income
income

The base annual salary for Senators and Representatives in 2010 is $174,000. In addition there are retirement and health benefits, expense allowances, franking privilege, personal staff allowance and other perquisites.

The 2010 median household income in the United States is $49,777.

Since a proportionally representative Citizen Legislature would contain half above and half below the median income, the representatives might want to peg the salary to a certain percentage of that median.

[In The Common Lot: Next Step for Democracy it is proposed that the salary be exactly the national median. Upon further reflection however, considering the considerable dislocation required and effort demanded, perhaps the national median plus 50% would be appropriate and adequate.]

In any case, this would be a matter for considered debate, as it always is and will remain.

intermediate steps
intermediate steps

What might be intermediate steps towards realizing a Citizen Legislature?

Advisory bodies of randomly chosen citizens already are becoming commonplace. The more these examples demonstrate the wisdom of ‘the people’, the sooner such bodies can graduate from advisers to policy makers.

See, among others, The Center for Deliberative Democracy, The Jefferson Center for New Democratic Processes, Citizen Consensus Councils, National Issues Forum, The National Initiative for Democracy, Everyday Democracy, Public Agenda, International Association for Public Participation, National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation, America Speaks and the Deliberative Democracy Consortium.

For bicameral legislatures some thinkers propose replacing the upper chamber with an allotted one and keeping the lower elected chamber.
In the U.S. Congress the Senate would be replaced by a sortitionally-chosen Citizens Chamber. Current procedural rules would remain as they are. [It is worth noting that under present U.S. Senate rules of filibuster, 40 Senators representing less than 10% of the population can block legislation.]
It is assumed that the Citizens Chamber would prove its worth over time and would likely stimulate demand for a unicameral Citizens Legislature.

leadership
leadership

Like every other measure, visionary leadership would be as prevalent in a proportionally representative legislature as it is in the general population. Some may criticize this fact by saying that this is exactly why we force candidates to engage in combative campaigns … so that voters can choose the ‘best’. Unfortunately what is chosen in that case is ‘the most combative’.

But more important than 'visionary leadership' among the legislators themselves is the fact that visionary leadership will be available, as it is now, from outside sources -- from lobbyists, citizens, leaders of all stripes and other petitioners. The actual architects of most laws in current legislatures are rarely the elected congresspersons but instead their staff and their various committees of advisors. The Senators and Reps are simply the deciders who make the choices among all the options presented. Quite rarely is leadership coupled with electability, which is the precise point of sortition -- to remove the influence of money, influence-peddling and power-brokering from the process by which our leaders are selected.

media
media

First of all, of course the ballot is preferred to the bullet.

The ballot however requires a certain type of person to put him- or herself up for candidacy. Such a person is necessarily of a particular psychological profile. That profile is only a small sub-section of the populace. Balloting -- in and of itself -- prevents realization of government 'by' the people.

Furthermore there are the obvious drawbacks: financial wherewithal, rhetorical adroitness, media visage.

Finally, the campaign is a contest. Many are attracted to the blood sport of it. That contest unfortunately drives the candidates to desperate measures -- not only the attack ads that poison civil discourse, but also the unavoidable compulsion to make promises and to take positions whose purpose is merely to win the election.

These reasons lead us to believe that sortitional selection of policy-making bodies will be the equitable, inclusive and wise 'next step for democracy'.

median net worth
median net worth

The median net worth of Senators is $1.06 million.

Representatives about $366,000.

The median net worth of U.S. households about $120,000.

N.B. ‘Median’ means ‘in the middle’.
It is different than ‘average’. The average is the total divided by the number of entries.

For example, take five people with these incomes:
A = $10,000
B = $20,000
C = $30,000
D = $40,000
E = $900,000

The median would be $30,000 (C, in the middle).

But the average would be $200,000 (A+B+C+D+E=$1,000,000 divided by five people = $200,000)

money
money

First of all, of course the ballot is preferred to the bullet.

The ballot however requires a certain type of person to put him- or herself up for candidacy. Such a person is necessarily of a particular psychological profile. That profile is only a small sub-section of the populace. Balloting -- in and of itself -- prevents realization of government 'by' the people.

Furthermore there are the obvious drawbacks: financial wherewithal, rhetorical adroitness, media visage.

Finally, the campaign is a contest. Many are attracted to the blood sport of it. That contest unfortunately drives the candidates to desperate measures -- not only the attack ads that poison civil discourse, but also the unavoidable compulsion to make promises and to take positions whose purpose is merely to win the election.

These reasons lead us to believe that sortitional selection of policy-making bodies will be the equitable, inclusive and wise 'next step for democracy'.

net worth comparison
net worth comparison

The median net worth of Senators is $1.06 million.

Representatives about $366,000.

The median net worth of U.S. households about $120,000.

N.B. ‘Median’ means ‘in the middle’.
It is different than ‘average’. The average is the total divided by the number of entries.

For example, take five people with these incomes:
A = $10,000
B = $20,000
C = $30,000
D = $40,000
E = $900,000

The median would be $30,000 (C, in the middle).

But the average would be $200,000 (A+B+C+D+E=$1,000,000 divided by five people = $200,000)

Objections to sortition
Objections to sortition

These issues have been raised:
1. Fear of incompetence
2. Loss of institutional memory
3. Tyranny of the majority
4. Lack of accountability
5. The seeming end of constituencies
6. Potential for corruption
7. No coherent programs or platforms

Our responses to these are as follows:
1. Agreed, that a basic understanding of civics is required. Therefore the proposal calls for a qualifying written test (no more difficult than that for a driver’s license in the USA). Both driving and serving on a jury involve life-and-death matters. With deliberative time assured and compensated the average citizen is quite capable of making wise decisions.
2. In the case of an institution that includes all of us, institutional memory is the responsibility of us all. The Fourth Estate in all its forms plays an important role in assuring this.
3. Since a sortitionally-chosen legislature would vote on the proposals initiated by or brought to it, majoritarianism will remain the danger to democracy that it has always been -- just as identified by de Tocqueville. Besides the existing constitutional checks and balances of the judicial and executive branches, the fact that minorities will be proportionally represented within the legislative debates should assure that tyrannies of the majority (such as those of land theft, enslavement, restricted suffrage, blacklisting, etc.) would occur less frequently than they have.
4. With a decision-making body most closely representing ‘all the people’ the issue of ‘lack of accountability’ is tautological. That is: how can ‘all the people’ not be accountable to itself?
5. There will be constituencies, though not ones with the clout of political manipulation. There will be like-minded representatives who, by ‘being true to their own selves’, will represent many more ‘constituencies’ than at present … since the full panoply of personalities and ideologies will be represented.
6. The great majority of the general populace is hard-working and honest. For the few who are not, the existing controls will be adequate (or found not to be, in which case improvements through existing mechanisms can be made).
7. Sortition was first used to prevent factions – or more often in today’s parlance, ‘interests’ – from undue influence. Political parties would no longer control candidates or representatives. But they – and many other citizen groups – would propose programs and platforms. Citizen legislators would act as a jury, choosing the programs most beneficial to all.

obstacle
obstacle

Remembering what Mohandas Gandhi said: "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."
Those who have most to lose from an equitable and legitimate decision-making process will not want to consider fundamental change. At present they are 'ignoring' because few citizens are yet aware of any options.

The first major obstacle, then, is to raise awareness about what "the next step for democracy" might be.

Currently Common Lot Productions is seeking collaborators and financial underwriters for:
1.) A Road Trip for Democracy -- a nationwide tour presenting, succinctly and creatively, a half-dozen options of wide political spectrum to systemically create a 'government by the people';
2.) A feature-length documentary or docu-drama or television series;
3.) Fictional or conceptual productions: film, stage, installation or site-specific performance.
All three of these avenues are being pursued.

open source activism
open source activism

If you are concerned about your neighbor's lot (yard, home, acreage ... not, that is, his or her well-being) see
http://www.seeclickfix.com/

organization
organization

I have worked or volunteered most of my life in the non-profit or non-governmental sector -- from public television to Peace Corps to soup kitchen to National Forest to community organizing to unarmed protection of civilians. I've never been a private business owner. So I have set up Common Lot Productions as a sole proprietorship, hoping to provide income for myself and others without constraints and with full personal responsibility.

ownership
ownership

I have worked or volunteered most of my life in the non-profit or non-governmental sector -- from public television to Peace Corps to soup kitchen to National Forest to community organizing to unarmed protection of civilians. I've never been a private business owner. So I have set up Common Lot Productions as a sole proprietorship, hoping to provide income for myself and others without constraints and with full personal responsibility.

perquisites
perquisites

The base annual salary for Senators and Representatives in 2010 is $174,000. In addition there are retirement and health benefits, expense allowances, franking privilege, personal staff allowance and other perquisites.

The 2010 median household income in the United States is $49,777.

Since a proportionally representative Citizen Legislature would contain half above and half below the median income, the representatives might want to peg the salary to a certain percentage of that median.

[In The Common Lot: Next Step for Democracy it is proposed that the salary be exactly the national median. Upon further reflection however, considering the considerable dislocation required and effort demanded, perhaps the national median plus 50% would be appropriate and adequate.]

In any case, this would be a matter for considered debate, as it always is and will remain.

Plebescitism
Plebescitism

Even if everyone had internet access or some other way to register their opinion, there are several problems with everyone voting on everything.

Most people do not have time or interest to properly deliberate about complex social issues.

Plebiscites, referenda and polls about complicated matters mostly reflect the opinions of the uninformed.

Demagogues can easily manipulate uninformed masses with emotional but untrue appeals.

plurality
plurality

The definition of 'proportional representation' is contested. Variants include Mixed-member, Partly-list, Single transferable vote, Cumulative voting and others. None of these are intended to extend to a random selection of citizens in order to select a representative sample of the population.

Given the limitations of the definition, the fact is that more than half of the world's countries use some form of 'proportional representation', usually connected to balloting through a political party.

political parties
political parties

The definition of 'proportional representation' is contested. Variants include Mixed-member, Partly-list, Single transferable vote, Cumulative voting and others. None of these are intended to extend to a random selection of citizens in order to select a representative sample of the population.

Given the limitations of the definition, the fact is that more than half of the world's countries use some form of 'proportional representation', usually connected to balloting through a political party.

populism
populism

Even if everyone had internet access or some other way to register their opinion, there are several problems with everyone voting on everything.

Most people do not have time or interest to properly deliberate about complex social issues.

Plebiscites, referenda and polls about complicated matters mostly reflect the opinions of the uninformed.

Demagogues can easily manipulate uninformed masses with emotional but untrue appeals.

proportional representation
proportional representation

The definition of 'proportional representation' is contested. Variants include Mixed-member, Partly-list, Single transferable vote, Cumulative voting and others. None of these are intended to extend to a random selection of citizens in order to select a representative sample of the population.

Given the limitations of the definition, the fact is that more than half of the world's countries use some form of 'proportional representation', usually connected to balloting through a political party.

psychological profile
psychological profile

First of all, of course the ballot is preferred to the bullet.

The ballot however requires a certain type of person to put him- or herself up for candidacy. Such a person is necessarily of a particular psychological profile. That profile is only a small sub-section of the populace. Balloting -- in and of itself -- prevents realization of government 'by' the people.

Furthermore there are the obvious drawbacks: financial wherewithal, rhetorical adroitness, media visage.

Finally, the campaign is a contest. Many are attracted to the blood sport of it. That contest unfortunately drives the candidates to desperate measures -- not only the attack ads that poison civil discourse, but also the unavoidable compulsion to make promises and to take positions whose purpose is merely to win the election.

These reasons lead us to believe that sortitional selection of policy-making bodies will be the equitable, inclusive and wise 'next step for democracy'.

publicity
publicity

Attention to the sortitional selection of decision-making bodies is increasing through publications and online forums. You can join our efforts in this in several ways:

* Supporting Common Lot Productions. We sell DVDs and are available for presentations. We do not want to be a non-profit venture because we believe that the marketplace of ideas can provide. We are looking for financial advisors who can guide us to profitability.

* Engaging with us on media productions. We have a full-length, big budget, high concept comic screenplay about "the common lot". We do not have the capacity to take this forward. We welcome collaborators.

* Suggesting other promotional manifestations of sortition. The idea is highly malleable. We can imagine live performances, other media productions and gallery installations in a wide variety of venues, exploring the concept of randomness. Again, we welcome collaborators and opportunities to explore these options.

* Encouraging viral expansion through social networking. Become a member of our Facebook page "Common Lot Productions" and 'like' us to all your 'friends'.

* Experimenting with random selection in your lives, individually and corporately. Remember, though, that if your goal is proportional representation, statistical theory -- the Law of Large Numbers -- states that the greater the number in the selection pool, the closer proportional representation will be assured. And vice versa.

* Joining our Common Lot Productions 'think tank' by sending your ideas about how to make this a financially self-supporting endeavor as well as one that contributes to the larger movement of realizing The Next Step for Democracy. E-mail: info@TheCommonLot.com.

reality
reality

Remembering what Mohandas Gandhi said: "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."
Those who have most to lose from an equitable and legitimate decision-making process will not want to consider fundamental change. At present they are 'ignoring' because few citizens are yet aware of any options.

The first major obstacle, then, is to raise awareness about what "the next step for democracy" might be.

Currently Common Lot Productions is seeking collaborators and financial underwriters for:
1.) A Road Trip for Democracy -- a nationwide tour presenting, succinctly and creatively, a half-dozen options of wide political spectrum to systemically create a 'government by the people';
2.) A feature-length documentary or docu-drama or television series;
3.) Fictional or conceptual productions: film, stage, installation or site-specific performance.
All three of these avenues are being pursued.

Reasons for advocating
Reasons for advocating

There are three separate but related impulses that drive me to push for a Citizen Legislature.

First is simply to engender more thought about what a 'representative democracy' is supposed to be. I thought it meant that the government was not supposed to be separate from the people.

Second is to eliminate my own lifelong complaint that no one in any elected ‘representative body’ represents me … since none of them are people who would not run for election. My whole life I have ‘stood outside’, disassociating myself from what I can only deem to be systematically an illegitimate government.

Third is to hasten the emergent, evolutionary social drive towards ... not 'equitability' but ... inclusivity. The sooner 'we-are-all-in-this-together' is operationally realized, the better off we all will be.

referendum
referendum

Even if everyone had internet access or some other way to register their opinion, there are several problems with everyone voting on everything.

Most people do not have time or interest to properly deliberate about complex social issues.

Plebiscites, referenda and polls about complicated matters mostly reflect the opinions of the uninformed.

Demagogues can easily manipulate uninformed masses with emotional but untrue appeals.

salary
salary

The base annual salary for Senators and Representatives in 2010 is $174,000. In addition there are retirement and health benefits, expense allowances, franking privilege, personal staff allowance and other perquisites.

The 2010 median household income in the United States is $49,777.

Since a proportionally representative Citizen Legislature would contain half above and half below the median income, the representatives might want to peg the salary to a certain percentage of that median.

[In The Common Lot: Next Step for Democracy it is proposed that the salary be exactly the national median. Upon further reflection however, considering the considerable dislocation required and effort demanded, perhaps the national median plus 50% would be appropriate and adequate.]

In any case, this would be a matter for considered debate, as it always is and will remain.

social networking
social networking

Attention to the sortitional selection of decision-making bodies is increasing through publications and online forums. You can join our efforts in this in several ways:

* Supporting Common Lot Productions. We sell DVDs and are available for presentations. We do not want to be a non-profit venture because we believe that the marketplace of ideas can provide. We are looking for financial advisors who can guide us to profitability.

* Engaging with us on media productions. We have a full-length, big budget, high concept comic screenplay about "the common lot". We do not have the capacity to take this forward. We welcome collaborators.

* Suggesting other promotional manifestations of sortition. The idea is highly malleable. We can imagine live performances, other media productions and gallery installations in a wide variety of venues, exploring the concept of randomness. Again, we welcome collaborators and opportunities to explore these options.

* Encouraging viral expansion through social networking. Become a member of our Facebook page "Common Lot Productions" and 'like' us to all your 'friends'.

* Experimenting with random selection in your lives, individually and corporately. Remember, though, that if your goal is proportional representation, statistical theory -- the Law of Large Numbers -- states that the greater the number in the selection pool, the closer proportional representation will be assured. And vice versa.

* Joining our Common Lot Productions 'think tank' by sending your ideas about how to make this a financially self-supporting endeavor as well as one that contributes to the larger movement of realizing The Next Step for Democracy. E-mail: info@TheCommonLot.com.

Sole proprietorship
Sole proprietorship

I have worked or volunteered most of my life in the non-profit or non-governmental sector -- from public television to Peace Corps to soup kitchen to National Forest to community organizing to unarmed protection of civilians. I've never been a private business owner. So I have set up Common Lot Productions as a sole proprietorship, hoping to provide income for myself and others without constraints and with full personal responsibility.

statistical probability
statistical probability

(thanks to Yoram Gat, statistician)

Margin of error is not exactly the right term. 'Margin of error' is used when using a proportion in a sample to estimate the proportion in the population. In our case the proportion in the population is known (50.8% women; 49.2% men), and we wish to bound the proportion in a sample. I would use something like “random fluctuation”.

To simplify, let us say the proportion is exactly 50-50. So in the case of a sample of 500, you will have at least 239–261 about 70% of the time, at least 227–273 about 95% of the time, and at least 216–284 about 99.5% of the time.

The chance of having a split that is worse than 200/300 is about 1:100,000.

The chance that either there would be more than 350 men or more than 350 women in the group of 500 is less than 0.2 millionth of a millionth of a millionth (2 x 10^-19)

In making these calculations, the size of the population doesn’t matter unless it is tiny – the statements are as true for a city of 100,000 as they are for a country of hundreds of millions. It is only the size of the sample that matters. As a rule of thumb, on each particular issue the sampling error is about 1 / (2 sqrt(n)), where n is the size of the sample.

This means, further, that if any group makes less than 40% of the population, then the chance that it will form a majority in a group of 500 randomly selected people is less than 3 in a million.

support
support

Attention to the sortitional selection of decision-making bodies is increasing through publications and online forums. You can join our efforts in this in several ways:

* Supporting Common Lot Productions. We sell DVDs and are available for presentations. We do not want to be a non-profit venture because we believe that the marketplace of ideas can provide. We are looking for financial advisors who can guide us to profitability.

* Engaging with us on media productions. We have a full-length, big budget, high concept comic screenplay about "the common lot". We do not have the capacity to take this forward. We welcome collaborators.

* Suggesting other promotional manifestations of sortition. The idea is highly malleable. We can imagine live performances, other media productions and gallery installations in a wide variety of venues, exploring the concept of randomness. Again, we welcome collaborators and opportunities to explore these options.

* Encouraging viral expansion through social networking. Become a member of our Facebook page "Common Lot Productions" and 'like' us to all your 'friends'.

* Experimenting with random selection in your lives, individually and corporately. Remember, though, that if your goal is proportional representation, statistical theory -- the Law of Large Numbers -- states that the greater the number in the selection pool, the closer proportional representation will be assured. And vice versa.

* Joining our Common Lot Productions 'think tank' by sending your ideas about how to make this a financially self-supporting endeavor as well as one that contributes to the larger movement of realizing The Next Step for Democracy. E-mail: info@TheCommonLot.com.

the common lot
the common lot

No, definitely not.

The executive and judicial branches must be chosen meritocratically, based on skills.

The executive is charged to carry out the will expressed by the legislature and therefore requires management expertise.
Similarly, judicial appointments require extensive training in the law and jurisprudence.

The primary purpose of sortitional selection of the legislative branch is to insure that the decision-making body can be as close to proportionally representative of the entire population as possible. It is intended to insure that the government is 'by' the people as well as 'for' and 'of' them.

"The Common Lot: Next Step for Democracy" advocates that sortition (random selection) be used to select among qualified citizens who are willing to serve in the legislature.

In order to be entered into the pool for random selection a citizen would be required to do two things.
First: register (just as one registers now to vote). Placing oneself in the lottery pool should be voluntary.
Second: pass a civics test in order to demonstrate basic understanding of the legislative process. This test should be no more difficult than the one required to obtain a driver's license in the U.S.
Accomplishing those two requirements, the citizen's name would be placed in the pool for random selection to serve in the legislature.

'Sortition' means 'choice by lot; random selection'.

Random selection in a large population will automatically produce, with small deviations, a proportional representation of that population. This is 'automatic' because of probability theorem: 'The Law of Large Numbers'.

A random selection of, say, 1,000 people from the U.S. population would produce a body that would contain approximately 492-496 men and 504-508 women (since men are 49.4% and women are 50.6% of the national population).

Unlike selection by competitive balloting, sortition is immune to the sway of political faction, economic privilege or any other factor besides citizenship.
[Note, however, that our proposal also suggests one other qualifier: a base-level understanding of the legislative process.]

sortition
sortition

(thanks to Yoram Gat, statistician)

Margin of error is not exactly the right term. 'Margin of error' is used when using a proportion in a sample to estimate the proportion in the population. In our case the proportion in the population is known (50.8% women; 49.2% men), and we wish to bound the proportion in a sample. I would use something like “random fluctuation”.

To simplify, let us say the proportion is exactly 50-50. So in the case of a sample of 500, you will have at least 239–261 about 70% of the time, at least 227–273 about 95% of the time, and at least 216–284 about 99.5% of the time.

The chance of having a split that is worse than 200/300 is about 1:100,000.

The chance that either there would be more than 350 men or more than 350 women in the group of 500 is less than 0.2 millionth of a millionth of a millionth (2 x 10^-19)

In making these calculations, the size of the population doesn’t matter unless it is tiny – the statements are as true for a city of 100,000 as they are for a country of hundreds of millions. It is only the size of the sample that matters. As a rule of thumb, on each particular issue the sampling error is about 1 / (2 sqrt(n)), where n is the size of the sample.

This means, further, that if any group makes less than 40% of the population, then the chance that it will form a majority in a group of 500 randomly selected people is less than 3 in a million.

Sortitional selection was a central and defining feature of the first Athenian democracy. It was used to select both legislative and administrative functions. There were also a small number of meritocratic elective offices, particularly for the military and the treasury.

Sortitional selection was also used in Florence and Venice in the late medieval period. The system was instituted in order to break the power of political factions. Sortition was also used during the French Revolution.

Sortition is also used by the Amish to choose their bishops.

Jury selection in U.S. courts is initially through sortition.

Sortition has been widely used in military drafts; in choosing recipients of organ transplants; in allotting places for children in magnet or charter schools; in dispensing tickets to entertainment or sporting events.

A long list of examples can be found in Wikipedia's entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sortition#Examples

vision
vision

Like every other measure, visionary leadership would be as prevalent in a proportionally representative legislature as it is in the general population. Some may criticize this fact by saying that this is exactly why we force candidates to engage in combative campaigns … so that voters can choose the ‘best’. Unfortunately what is chosen in that case is ‘the most combative’.

But more important than 'visionary leadership' among the legislators themselves is the fact that visionary leadership will be available, as it is now, from outside sources -- from lobbyists, citizens, leaders of all stripes and other petitioners. The actual architects of most laws in current legislatures are rarely the elected congresspersons but instead their staff and their various committees of advisors. The Senators and Reps are simply the deciders who make the choices among all the options presented. Quite rarely is leadership coupled with electability, which is the precise point of sortition -- to remove the influence of money, influence-peddling and power-brokering from the process by which our leaders are selected.

voting
voting

The definition of 'proportional representation' is contested. Variants include Mixed-member, Partly-list, Single transferable vote, Cumulative voting and others. None of these are intended to extend to a random selection of citizens in order to select a representative sample of the population.

Given the limitations of the definition, the fact is that more than half of the world's countries use some form of 'proportional representation', usually connected to balloting through a political party.