A Citizens’ Assembly brings a randomly selected, representative group of people together to deliberate and make policy decisions. Citizens' Assemblies have been used all around the world in America, Europe, and Asia to deal with divisive and highly politicized issues such as same-sex marriage, abortion, Brexit, and climate change.
Why hold a Citizens' Assembly?
Proponents of democratic lotteries claim that Citizens' assemblies selected by lot have the following beneficial properties:
Randomly selecting participants gives every person an equal chance of being selected, regardless of age, gender, location or any other characteristic.
Hundreds of examples from around the world have shown that citizens’ assemblies work. Research shows that diverse groups of people are better decision-makers than homogenous groups.
People develop an informed, critical understanding of complex policy decisions, hearing from and questioning a variety of experts and stakeholders.
They increase the diversity of voices in the decision-making process, allowing very different people to find common ground by focusing on wider community needs.
They open up the space for change when tackling ‘wicked problems’ where interest or community groups are blocking progress. They give decision-makers increased confidence that they have broad public support for a proposal.
You will be at the forefront of democratic innovation and citizen empowerment and engagement.
Using stratified random selection and a clear, open process reduces the influence of vested interests — you will not be engaging with the ‘usual suspects’.
Assembly members work together to identify the pros, cons and trade-offs of policy options, giving you high-quality public judgements backed by considered, easily understood reasons
They increase the legitimacy of public policy-making by enabling a representative cross-section of people to inform the decision.
Citizens' Assemblies are one form of many kinds of deliberative bodies selected by lottery. Whereas a Citizens' Assembly may last several months, other bodies such as Citizens' Juries, Citizens' Initiative Review, or Deliberative Polls may meet for a few days to weeks. A couple examples of these deliberative bodies are shown in the table below.
Examples Across the World
Below is a small cross-section of deliberative bodies such as Citizens' Assemblies conducted in America and abroad. Again and again, these Citizens' Assemblies demonstrate the beneficial claims made by proponents of Democratic Lotteries:
A diverse set of Americans across the political spectrum came together and came to broad agreement on the need to protect the environment and implement policies to reduce carbon emissions.
Americans came together to deliberate on controversial topics including healthcare and the Affordable Care Act, immigration, taxes, foreign policy, and more.
Irish Citizens came together to deliberate on divisive moral issues such as gay marriage and abortion. The Irish people also conducted deliberations on climate change and emission reduction policy.
The people of the United Kingdom came together to discuss climate change in 2020.
Canadians of British Columbia came together to discuss advanced methods to conduct better elections such as proportional representation and "Single Transferable Vote" multi-member districts.