An op-ed piece in The New York Times by Gary Gutting, a professor of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame:
At election time we inevitably hear earnest pleas for everyone to vote. Voter participation is a data point often cited in political studies, along with an assumption that the higher the percentage, the better: 100 percent participation is the goal. But we rarely question this belief, or objectively consider whether everyone who can vote ought to vote.
The author then outlines the problems of mass democracy, including ‘trumpery’, plutocracy and rational ignorance, and attempts to justify voting as an act of participatory solidarity. But he goes on to consider sortition as an alternative:
At least one political philosopher has put forward the radical idea that we could ensure informed voters by employing an “enfranchisement lottery.” Such a lottery would restrict voting to a randomly chosen group of citizens who are provided unbiased in-depth information relevant to an election. We can think of this approach as a matter of modeling our voting on our jury system. We would never accept deciding important and highly publicized trials by a vote of the general public. We think only people fully informed of the facts and relevant arguments put forward in a trial should make such important judgments. Shouldn’t we be at least as careful in deciding who should be president?
Notice that answering yes does not imply the elitist view that only a small minority of citizens are capable of making informed votes. The idea is not that voters are too stupid or biased to access the needed information; it’s just that they don’t have the time and resources to do so. Ideally, we would provide everyone with the relevant knowledge, but that would be impractical, time-consuming and expensive.
Unfortunately such a system might well be unconstitutional, so he then comes up with a hybrid proposal along similar lines to John Burnheim’s case for demarchy, in that the role of the allotted jury would be to better inform public opinion prior to the general election. Voters would (supposedly) choose to mirror the considered preferences of the allotted microcosm.
Why not, then, randomly choose, from the list of registered voters, a national jury that would meet for a week or two before the election? The jurors would be sequestered and listen to presentations from and debates among the candidates and their policy teams. The jury might also hear from and question experts on major policy issues. The result would be voters informed to a level most us can only hope to achieve. We would need a fairly large jury — perhaps several thousand — to properly represent the nation’s diverse views and interests. Televising the proceedings would help ensure transparency. Since the jury was randomly chosen, its vote would very likely represent the outcome of an election in which we were all well-informed voters.