Frequently Asked Questions
What is Sortition? Sortition simply means choosing by lottery. In America, it has been an obscure word until recently. When we apply the word sortition to the political arena it means selecting public officials by lottery, or random selection. This process would ensure that we have a truly representative government.
How will Representatives be chosen? They will be chosen by lottery. Alternates would also be chosen and receive training to be prepared to take over at any time the Representative would not be able to serve.
Who does the choosing? Each state will be responsible for the administration of its lottery system to ensure it is truly random and inclusive.
Who is eligible? Any United States citizen who is a registered voter.
What about people who are blind, deaf, or disabled? The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) will be followed to ensure no discrimination against any person with limited abilities.
Is service mandatory, like the draft? No. Service is voluntary.
How long would they serve? Members would sit in Congress for one year. In the year previous to service they would receive training and updates about issues before Congress as well as National Security briefings.
Would there be educational requirements? My mother had a 9th-grade education but maintained a balanced budget while raising three kids alone and retired comfortably. I have friends with degrees who are retirement age and broke. Our very well educated Congress has only given us a balanced budget for four years since 1970. We have not been debt-free since Andrew Jackson was president. Education would be provided. For the year before serving in Congress the chosen representatives would remain at home and on their jobs. They would attend classes on American history, the Constitution, and American government. They would be required to attend and pass tests on these subjects. They would also receive security briefings on world events and daily updates on activities in Congress. They would be well prepared before taking office.
Can we trust those 18 to 25 years old to make important decisions and shoulder such responsibility? We already do. The vast majority of those who serve in combat on the front lines are in that age group. They may make life and death decisions and have the greatest burden of responsibility for citizenship but no voice in Congress.
How does this affect women? Women make up about 51% of voters but hold only 24% of the seats in Congress. This would ensure the House would have women in about half of the seats. Women have had the vote for 99 years but still hold a small percentage of the seats in Congress. A Congress consisting of 76% men can have not legitimate claim to being a truly representative body. A random selection process (sortition) would insure the opportunity to balance our representation for every demographic.
How are political parties affected? The parties have far too much power now. Only 29% of voters are Democratic and 26% are Republican. Yet when one of these parties holds both houses they wield 90% of the power in Congress. 42% of us are registered independents but hold only 2 seats in Congress. Not 2%, just two seats. That’s 0.5% for the largest group of voters.
Why are we purple? We are purple because we are not red or blue. Our purpose is not to promote any political agenda. We are striving to see that every American has fair representation in Congress. We want women to have 50% of the seats in Congress. We want 18 to 25-year-olds to have a voice in Congress in proportion to their place in the population. We want working Americans trying to get by on thirty, or forty, or fifty thousand dollars a year to have a voice in Congress, and minimum wage workers living on fifteen thousand. We want people of every race, religion, lifestyle, political belief, and zip code to have an equal voice in government. We held slaves for one hundred years after declaring “all men are created equal”. We have come a long way since then. From women’s rights to civil rights, we have made great progress. Now it is time to finish the job. Equal voices in government. Citizens Congress can give us that. Support it, share it with your friends, donate to it. Congress is broken. We can fix it. But we need millions of people like you to support it.
Why should the Senate vote to limit their own power? Many Senators are frustrated with the pressure to vote along party lines. They also need to spend endless hours on the telephone begging wealthy donors for money and engaging with lobbyists. This would allow Senators to regain their independence and vote their conscience. This system would be a great opportunity for men and women of vision who could speak with integrity and passion to thrive in the Senate.
Any Senator or group of Senators could send proposals to the House. There the people would decide on merit, not partisanship. Politicians and the corrupt might squeal but statesmen with integrity would thrive with their new independence. There would be more opportunity to bring forth new ideas and to demonstrate leadership and statesmanship.
The Citizens Congress organization and their supporters would ask persons running for the U.S. Congress and for their state legislature to pledge to vote in favor of the amendment as a condition of their re-election. Citizens could put enough pressure on our state and federal legislators to ensure their vote for Citizens Congress. But we must want it and we must work for it. It is not easy but it is possible if we work together.