Letter: Sortition, a better way?

Published: 08-29-2023 7:00 AM

Are you fed up with our system of elections: low turnout, contested results, gerrymandering, endless campaigns, attack ads, special-interest money, and on and on? We who profess our love of democracy should look to its acknowledged source: ancient Athens. The Athenians used a system called sortition, whereby officials were chosen by lottery from a pool of qualified citizens. It prevented the corrupt practices of the rich and powerful from controlling government. It’s basically the same system we now use to choose jurors.

What if we did the same with mayors, governors, legislators, justices, even presidents? Recently, other countries, Canada, Germany, France, Great Britain, Ireland, have begun to see the promise of sortition and to use it in certain situations. If you think that sortition sounds crazy, think about the current state of our elections and government. To paraphrase William F. Buckley, I’d rather be governed by the first 535 people in the Concord phone book than by the 535 people in the U.S. Congress.

Robert Maccini



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