FAQ’s are further down this page.
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SORTITION – FAQ’s
Q: What is sortition?
A: Sortition or selection by lot (like a lottery), has a long history. It was used in ancient Greece (specifically in Athens), the birthplace of democracy, to select people for political office.
Q: Where is sortition used?
A: Sortition has been used in many places since its origins in Ancient Athens. Most well-known is the use of sortition to select people for jury service.
Recently in Australia sortition, or random selection as it is more commonly called, is used as part of deliberative mini-publics, often called citizens’ juries.
Citizens’ juries are modelled on criminal juries – where the jurors are randomly selected, they hear evidence and then deliberate to reach a common view on the issue. With a criminal jury it is usually guilty or not guilty, for a citizens’ jury it is usually more complex.
As per their title deliberative mini-publics have two key elements:
- The participants work respectfully together to deliberate and deeply consider the issue/s before them.
- The members are a mini-public because they are selected via a stratified random sample to match the broad demographics of their community.
Q: What are the benefits of using sortition?
A: One of the benefits of having randomly selected people participate on citizens’ assemblies or as part of Boards (as in the case of the Co-Op) is that they bring a different perspective, not a ‘better’ perspective but a different one.
There is a common misconception that anyone who isn’t an activist is apathetic. Experience with mini-publics suggests quite the opposite.
Q: How is sortition or random selection implemented?
A: A key aspect of any random selection process is that everyone has an equal chance of being selected.
This is usually achieved through a three-step process:
- Invitations are sent to either all or a random sample of individuals or households in the selected area
- People who receive invitations decide whether or not to volunteer to go into the next round of selection
- Another random sample, this time stratified to match key demographics in the community, is undertaken to select the final participants.
Q: Why is the Co-op using sortition to select Board members?
A: The people who established the Co-op wanted to engage their local community through community ownership and community use of the old school premises. In addition, they wanted to support local democracy by engaging with not simply activists and community organisations, but also with everyday people in the Kyneton and District Community, to guide the work of the Co-op.
Q: What are the rules around filling Board positions by sortition/random selection
A: The Co-op’s Constitution, incorporated under Co-Operatives National Law, provides that the Co-op Board can have up to nine positions and that at least two of these must be filled by sortition. Due to the necessity of filling a recent casual vacancy on the Board it was decided to use the Board’s power under the Constitution (Section 4.6.2) to also fill this vacancy using sortition. This means three places on the current board will be appointed by sortition. The main reason, in this situation,for the filling of a casual vacancy by sortition is to help restore gender balance to the board which is currently only 25% female. A second consideration was to help redress the age bias of the board towards older residents.
Q: How is the Co-op selecting people for these sortition positions on their Board?
A: Invitations to volunteer to be part of the Co-op Board have been sent to every household in Kyneton and District as well as being distributed at markets, train stations and other places where people congregate.
The invitation provides information about the Co-op Board and the selection process as well as providing a link to a webpage [http://deliberatelyengaging.com.au/kyneton/], from there people can go to the registration form, answer a few questions and go into the pool to be randomly selected to be on the Co-op’s Board.
Registration for the Co-op Board closes on 28 April. After that a stratified random selection will be produced from everyone who volunteers, to ensure the Board has a cross-section of the community on it.
The registration and selection process is being handled independently of the Kyneton and District Town Hall Co-op, by Nivek Thompson from the Sydney based Deliberately Engaging Pty Ltd. Nivek can be contacted via email at email@example.com or by calling 0472 761 324.
If you would like to know more about sortition visit https://equalitybylot.com/ or https://www.sortitionfoundation.org/ or https://www.mosaiclab.com.au/news-all-posts/2018/6/29/dilemma-discussed-representative-views