Every citizen who meets the qualifications enumerated in Article I, sections 2 and 3 of the Constitution could become a candidate by filling out a simple application form. This application can be automatically done during voter registration. Every registered person will have an equal chance of becoming a member of Congress. The election or selection can be conducted by mechanical devises or computers with sufficient security and supervision.
Yuskel’s paper is interesting for going beyond complaints about the ills of the existing electoral system and beyond proposing sortition as an alternative. The paper first makes a brief but fairly insightful and principled analysis of the causes of the problems and the likely ineffectiveness of commonly offered reforms. Then, the advantages of sortition over the current system are enumerated, and some objections are considered.
Yuskel points at the inherent weakness of campaign finance reform proposals:
[The] proposed model, which argues for a mandatory campaign finance system in which each voter supports his or her favorite candidates by vouchers, ignores the fact that those candidates with more money or celebrity will eventually have more media coverage and name recognition and thus, will most likely receive more “coupons.”
Similarly, he makes the point that the clichéd proposals for techno-electoral systems and techno-participative systems do not address fundamental cognitive barriers:
[F]ew citizens have the luxury of time and talent to find useful political information in the jungle of Internet. If elections were heavily dependent on this source, the clutter in related web sites would discourage even me, an experienced netsurfer[,]
Even if we ignore the economic and social cost of direct participation, however, it is susceptible to becoming a power base for only those who have time on their hands, such as the elderly.
Among the objections considered are the corrupting effects of empowerment, statistical inaccuracies, and the reliability of the sampling procedure. Yuskel makes concise presentations of both the objections and some counter-arguments.
Interestingly, Yuskel mentions Amar’s “lottery voting” papers, but seems unaware of proposals that are closer to his own, such as that of Callenbach and Phillips, which I believe is essentially identical to the one proposed in the paper.