Tired of our disastrous politics?

Want to feel hope for the future?

Then we've got something for you...

Tired of our disastrous politics?

Want to feel hope for the future?

Then we've got something for you...

We can have government
that unites and inspires

Instead of watching politicians play politics, imagine we call upon everyday Americans from all walks of life to represent our communities, our country, and our values – free from political debts and partisan pressures.

Sound impossible? It’s not…

Everyday Americans who discussed important issues facing the country in America In One Room (2019). Photos from the New York Times.

We can have government that unites and inspires

Instead of watching politicians play politics, imagine we call upon everyday Americans from all walks of life to represent our communities, our country, and our values – free from political debts and partisan pressures.

Sound impossible? It’s not…

Photos: Everyday Americans who discussed important issues facing the country in America In One Room (2019). From the New York Times.

This is what's possible when we replace
partisan elections with democratic lotteries

This is what's possible
when we replace
partisan elections with democratic lotteries

The original vision of democracy in ancient Athens largely rejected elections in favor of lotteries. They called on common citizens to serve as representatives in order to prevent corruption and division.
 
A modern version of this vision would use democratic lotteries to fill our lawmaking bodies with everyday people—without the campaigns, parties, and so much of what we hate about politics.
 
And the lotteries would be done in a way that ensures those selected reflect the population. So they look like America, live like America, and know what matters to America.

This is the way democracy should be

People like you

They are everyday Americans from all walks of life.
Nurses, business owners, farmers, engineers, waitresses, parents, teachers, truckers, retirees…

They are everyday Americans from all walks of life. Nurses, business owners, farmers, engineers, waitresses, parents, teachers, truckers, retirees…

Weighing expert testimony

Instead of letting lobbyists or their party tell them how to vote, they inform their decisions with the testimony of a range of experts and those most impacted

Having honest conversations

They work through differences with frank yet civil discussion, with the support of skilled facilitators

Finding common ground

They converge on solutions that reflect the broad consensus of the whole group

Without
parties
donors
campaigns

Think about it. Elected politicians have to obey their party, repay their donors, and constantly score political points.

But everyday citizens selected by lottery wouldn’t owe anything to anyone and couldn’t run for reelection. So they could actually listen to, learn from, and work with each other to solve our issues.

We're already seeing promising glimpses of this vision

This may be the first time you’ve ever heard of this vision. But over the past decade, dozens of Citizens’ Panels and Citizens’ Assemblies around the world have used democratic lotteries to empower everyday people to shape policy. For a long list of examples, click here.

Again and again, these groups have successfully sidestepped dysfunctional politics and empowered everyday people to address difficult problems head-on. And they provide a tantalizing preview to a political system centered not on elections and politicians, but on lotteries and everyday people.

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Citizens’ Assembly selected by lottery in Northern Ireland

A vision rooted in America's founding ideals,
that can get to the root of our problems

A vision rooted in America's founding ideals, that can get to the root of our problems

“[A legislature] should be in miniature an exact portrait of the people at large. It should think, feel, reason, and act like them."
John Adams
Founding Father and our 2nd President
Thoughts on Government, 1776
"selecting parliaments by lot instead of election...would prevent the formation of self-serving and self-perpetuating political classes"
Kofi Annan
Former Secretary-General of the UN
Co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize
Athens Democracy Forum, 2017
"If we had a lottery a whole lot of people right now who feel disenfranchised would feel enfranchised."
Malcolm Gladwell
Bestselling Author
Revisionist History Podcast, 2020

A vision supported by
your fellow Americans

A vision supported by your fellow Americans

A nationally-representative poll conducted by one of the most respected polling companies, SurveyUSA, showed that when asked, most Americans support the use of democratic lotteries to select our representatives—even at the highest levels of government.

This vision resonates across the political spectrum, with equal support from both liberals and conservatives, even more support from independents, and only a sliver of opposition in each camp. Check it out for yourself.

“Compared to having elected politicians in Congress, everyday Americans selected in a democratic lottery would be…”

Now you might be wondering...

This is a vision for lawmaking bodies at the local, state, and national level.

And although this vision principally applies city councils, state assemblies, and Congress, there are also calls to replace partisan primaries for executive positions—like mayor, governor, and president—with lottery-drawn Citizens’ Commissions. Instead of voters and campaigns, these representative and deliberative bodies of everyday citizens would field, vet, nominate, and possibly even select executive candidates.

From city councils to Congress, lawmaking bodies deal mostly with questions of morals, values, and priorities. How do we want to live together? How should we spend our hard-earned tax dollars? What kind of future do we want for our children?

Answering these questions requires a deep understanding of our communities and our country, and firsthand knowledge of the challenges we face. And when it requires expert knowledge about a specific issue, these citizens can call on expert testimony—just like elected politicians do. Experts can advise, but they shouldn't decide.

The people who live like us and share the same hopes, dreams, and concerns as us are the ones who are most qualified to truly represent us.

And when it comes to executing policy and running government day-to-day, we do need professional administrators, but there are also promising ways to use lotteries to take parties and politicking out of the selection of mayors, governors, and the president.

Democratic lotteries use proven polling techniques that track the census and the most accurate projections to guide the selection of those picked. This ensures accurate representation across age, gender, geography, income, and ethnicity. It creates a true portrait of the population.

The beauty of this is that we can verify its accuracy just by looking at who gets selected, rather than having to blindly trust faulty and hackable voting booths.

After being selected, the decision to serve would be voluntary. Some may choose to opt-out for whatever reason. For example, they may be running a small business that depends on them. But given our country’s massive population, we can count on there being hundreds of thousands if not millions of Americans hoping to get selected and ready to serve.

A minimum age and a restriction against folks who have been convicted of corruption or violent crimes would probably make sense. So might some other basic requirements. We are against qualifications that discriminate and exclude, but ultimately America will have to decide what requirements to put in place.

First, this really doesn't happen. Citizens' Panels and Assemblies have shown again and again that when given respect, responsibility, and a chance to listen and learn from one another, people selected by democratic lottery are sensible and civil. And they tend to think passionately about what's best for everyone.

Second, the large size of legislative bodies, the need to collaborate, and single term limits would mean that extreme views and bad apples wouldn't make much progress.

Third, for extremely rare cases, there are already rules and procedures on the books that could be maintained and improved to allow the rest of the group to discipline and remove disruptive members.

To start with, no campaigns means no outright buying of representatives.

In addition, one crucial difference that would set this system apart is that since these people would represent America simply by being representative of America, they can make their decisions using a secret ballot, just like we do on election day.

This would powerfully defend against corruption once in office by preventing the trading of votes for favors or bribes, the way politicians currently do. Think about it - would you try to bribe someone if you could never confirm if they upheld their end of the deal? So it would free our decision makers to truly do what’s right.

Up until this point, those working to advance democratic lotteries have largely focused on convincing politicians of the need for more consultative Citizens' Panels and Assemblies. As you might imagine, they've encountered some resistance along the way. And of the work that has been done, there hasn't been much in the way of compelling documentation.

In contrast, of by for is focused on powerfully communicating the promise of this vision for democracy directly to everyday people and taking a true grassroots approach to creating change.

The real goal when selecting representatives in lawmaking bodies is to find people who represent us and our values. A democratic lottery achieves this far better than elections ever can, because it’s real people who look like us and live like us, with no ulterior motives. It’s not out of touch politicians saying whatever, and taking money from wherever, just to win our vote.

Voting could still be used to select executive positions that require specialized skills like mayor, governor or president. Although there are promising ways to use lotteries to take parties and politicking out of that selection process too.

More than band-aids, we need a cure.
And we have a plan.

More than band-aids, we need a cure. And we have a plan.

New candidates and electoral reforms may have some immediate impact, but neither will lead to profound or lasting change. We need to invest in transformative solutions for our toxic politics that can heal the damage done and prevent future ills.

We will conduct, film, and share two high-profile demonstration projects that give the country a powerful view of the possibilities of democratic lotteries and citizen representatives. This vision will lay the foundation for grassroots organizing for systemic change. We will use local and state ballot initiative campaigns to replace partisan elections with democratic lotteries for forming lawmaking bodies. And this will set the stage for change at the national level.

2020

Statewide Citizens’ Panel
on COVID-19

2021

National Citizens’ Assembly

2022+

Ballot Initiative Campaigns
to Institutionalize Lotteries

So if you're ready to feel hopeful for a change,
now's your chance to play a part

So if you're ready to feel hopeful for a change, now's your chance to play a part