Sortition is the random selection of people for positions of authority from a general pool. Those selected may serve individually or in juries and typically have the time and resources to become well informed on the questions they are chosen to decide.

Input: census of community members, randomization method, appropriate training

Output: advisory recommendation or binding decision


Sortition was a basic feature of Athenian democracy. During the medieval and early-modern period it was used for governing some Italian city-states, such as Venice and Florence.

In recent political systems, it is used most commonly for the formation of citizen juries for trials. But it has had other scattered uses in recent history, from Amish communities to national constitutional reform processes.

Feedback loops


  • Encourages deliberation insulated from external pressures
  • Can enable juries to gain a level of focused expertise on the issue at hand greater than what would be possible for the population as a whole or elected representatives


  • May not be fully representative of the population
  • May enable groupthink and negative internal dynamics among selected juries, especially in the absence of a secret ballot




Further resources