The Fetura or Sortition Option

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Sortition, or selection by lot, from the Latin sortiri, has a long history of use, going back to the ancient Solonian Constitution of Athens, and serving the Republic of Venice well for 760 years. Rule by lot is called demarchy or klerostocracy, from the Greek kleros (κλερος) casting lots. Today it is mainly used for the selection of juries, but the abuses of the electoral process, resulting from the need for candidates to raise large sums of money from donors who expect something in return, and the politicization of the appointment or election of judges, makes it appropriate to consider amending constitutions and laws to make more use of various forms of sortition.

Fetura, from the Latin for breeding, is a combination of alternating random selection and fitness screening. It is also the principle of genetic or evolutionary algorithms.


  1. Republic of Venice 1268-1797
    1. HTML Version or Menu Text Version Remote Link - PDF Let's Toss for It: A Surprising Curb on Political Greed, by Sigmund Knag, Independent Review, Vol. 3 No. 2, Autumn 1998.
    2. HTML
                Version or Menu  Venetian selection system
    3. HTML Version or Menu Defense of the Constitutions of the United States, Vol. I, Letter XIX: Venice, by John Adams, 1787. History of the Republic of Venice and their use of sortition in a constitutional framework.
    4. HTML Version or Menu HTML Version or Menu The Most Serene Republic of Venice. From
    5. HTML Version or Menu HTML Version or Menu Venice, Cambridge Modern History, Vol. I, Chapter VIII, by Horatio Brown. Outline of constitution: Great Council; Senate; the Ten.

  2. Republic of Florence, about 1115-1434, movement to restore 1465. Corrupted by Medici family through its  later history.

    1. HTML Version or Menu Florentine selection system

  3. Republic of Genoa, about 1339-1797  Not so much a republic as a dogate.

    1. HTML Version or Menu Genoese selection system

    2. HTML Version or Menu History of Genoa, Wikipedia.

  4. Remote Link - HTML      How to Pick Our Leaders: Should We Try a Lottery?, by Dick Dougherty, The Independent Institute, January 7, 1999.
  5. Remote Link - HTML      Demos: Classical Athenian Democracy, Christopher blackwell, editor. Site devoted to the analysis and discussion of how sortition worked in ancient Athens.
  6. Local Link - Word      Solon and Sortition, article on "Archon", The Encyclopedia Britannica, Eleventh Ed., Vol. II, 1910.
  7. HTML
            Version or Menu Remote Link - HTML The Athenian Constitution: Government by Jury and Referendum, by Roderick T. Long, Autumn 1996, published by the Libertarian Nation Foundation.
  8. Adobe PDF Remote Link - PDF Choosing Representatives by Lottery Voting, Akhil Reed Amar, 93 Yale L.J. 1283, June, 1984.
  9. Remote Link - PDF Lottery Voting: A Thought Experiment, Akhil Reed Amar (Yale Law school, 1-1-1995) — Proposes election by random drawing of ballots cast in a district.
  10. HTML Version or Menu Remote Link - HTML Demarchy: A democratic alternative to electoral politics, by Brian Martin,, August 1989; revised January 2001.
  11. Remote Link - HTML      Sortition, Wikipedia article.
  12. Remote Link - HTML      Democracy without Elections, by Brian Martin, Social Anarchism 21 (1995-1996).
  13. HTML Version or Menu Remote Link - HTML An Essay on Democracy, by Peter Landry,, May, 1997. Re-edit:April, 1999.
  14. HTML Version or Menu Remote Link - HTML Going Bezirke, review in Reason by John McClaughry of A Solving Problems Without Large Government: Devolution, Fairness, and Equality, by George W. Liebmann, Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 2000.
  15. HTML
            Version or Menu Remote Link - HTML What could the social structure of anarchy look like?.
  16. HTML Version or Menu Remote Link - HTML Transformational Politics, by Tom Atlee, 1991, revised Sept. 1999.
  17. Remote Link - HTML A Citizen Legislature, by Ernest Callenbach and Michael Phillips, In Context 11 (Autumn 1985).
  18. Remote Link - HTML A Citizen Legislature, by Ernest Callenbach and Michael Phillips, Berkeley, California: Banyan Tree Books, 1985.
  19. Remote Link - HTML A Model for a Tiered Constituent Assembly, Proposed Models for a Canadian Constituent Assembly, by Bill Longstaff (1997).
  20. Remote Link - HTML Citizens' Juries in Great Britain, by Jen Romslo and Sascha Pohl. Report of the British experience with citizens' juries.
  21. Remote Link - PDF Toward Deliberative Institutions: Lesson from Citizens' Juries, by Graham Smith and Corinne Wales.
  22. Remote Link - Word Citizens´ Constitution of Czech Republic (Draft No 1, 2002) — Proposes "citizens commissions" selected by sortition as a key governing component.
  23. HTML Version or Menu Text Version Sortition for Judges, by Jon Roland.
  24. HTML Version or Menu Text Version Laws, Plato (~348 BCE) — Model laws for a republic, including sortition for judges and other officials.
  25. Adobe PDF Remote Link - PDF Judging Athenian Dramatic Competitions — Analysis of ancient Athenian practices for selecting winners.
  26. Remote Link - HTML Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, Book 6, Chap. 10, by William Godwin. Not favorable to sortition, but not fond of balloting, either.
  27. HTML Version or Menu Reflections on the Revolution in France, by Edmund Burke, 1790. Argues against sortition, for representation based on merit and property.
  28. HTML Version or Menu Woodhouse's English-Greek Dictionary, entry for "lot".
  29. Organizations


    Also see Jury Reform and Public Choice.

    Sortition at
    Proposals at and Proposed Amendments at

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    Original date: 2002/10/26 —