An article regarding “participative budgeting” in Calgary makes good material for critical reading. Among other issues, random selection is mentioned:
It’s not enough to simply invite citizens to give input, she [Victoria councillor Lisa Helps] argued. The problem is that special-interest groups can too easily dominate the discussion.
Dan Doherty, a director with a non-profit called Wise Democracy, has already tested one possible solution.
In 2011, he was contracted by the city to build “citizens insight councils” tasked with giving input into the city’s official community planning process. He found participants through a random selection process.
By calling 60 people, selected randomly by address, Doherty found 24 willing participants who agreed to a half-day workshop.
“It gets at people whose voices are not usually heard,” said Doherty.