- Scope of Implementation
- Level of Polarization This Method Can Handle
Problems and Purpose
Civic lottery refers to the contemporary use of sortition or allotment: a lottery-based selection technique used to draw a fair, representative sample of citizens for invitation or inclusion in anything from participatory events to public office. It is based on the premise that all citizens in a democracy have an equal right to serve their society by participating in its governance. By using the civic lottery, participation is determined by 'lot' rather than money, partisan affiliation, or political connection. 
The civic lottery is a technique used by practitioners and scholars to draw a fair, demographically representative sample of citizens for inclusion in any form of participatory event. According to consultation firm MASS LBP, the civic lottery is an effective way of For example, organisers of a Citizens' Jury may employ th e civic lottery technique to select a panel of jurists.
Origins and Development
Civic lottery is not a new concept - it is popularly known to many Anglo-Saxon judicial systems as jury duty where citizen juries are summoned to hear and render verdicts in court cases.
The use of civic lottery to select participant for deliberative democratic events such as citizens' juries has been popularlized in recent decades by the Canadian firm MASS LBP. In a 2018 report, MASS states that they have used the lottery mechanism to select participants for the majority of their deliberative decision-making events called 'reference panels'. Since the early 2000s, MASS has identified and invited over 300,000 Canadian citizens through the civic lottery, of which nearly 2,000 have taken part in a participatory process.
How it Works
Participants selected through civic lottery are commonly drawn from an official government registry of persons with permanent residence or citizenship. Letters are sent to a large number of people with the expectation that many will not be able to participate due to scheduling conflicts or other disqualifying factors.
Panel members are randomly selected from among the pool of candidate-respondents to create a panel that roughly matches the demographic profile of the wider population.
MASS LBP, a Canadian company inspired by the work of the Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform (Ontario) has developed an increasingly sophisticated system for running civic lotteries to randomly select citizens to participate on government advisory panels. The lotteries, which ask citizens to give up several consecutive weekends to participate on a panel, enjoy a strong positive response rate, typically exceeding five percent. 
The procedure for using the civic lottery is as follows:
Organisers first decide on the population they should target for their event, the number of desired participants, the demographic breakdown of the wider population, and what method they will use for distributing invitations. Lots are then drawn and invitations are sent to 'winners'. In the majority of cases, invitations take the form of a letter and are sent by mail, however, any method of delivery is acceptable so long as it "give everyone in the population roughly the same chance of being invited to volunteer."  The invitations sent by MASS LBP offer a reproduceable template:
"The invitation explains that the recipient is being asked to volunteer to help the convenor solve a problem that affects the population, and that, if selected, they will be working with others on behalf of the whole population to develop solutions.
Those who volunteer are asked to provide basic demographic information required for the lottery process, but are not asked to make a case for why they should be selected — as long as they meet the basic eligibility criteria, they are placed into the pool of volunteers." 
A second civic lottery is then performed to select a group of participants from the pool of volunteers. This second drawing of lots is done in such a way that they final group of individuals matches the demographic criteria decided by organisers (eg. an even gender balance).
Civic lotteries are increasingly popular in Canada, where provincial Citizens' Assemblies on Electoral Reform took place in British Columbia in 2004 and in Ontario in 2006. The membersh ip of each Assembly was determined by a civic lottery which invited citizens to volunteer as candidates. In British Columbia, the government sent 23,034 letters to randomly identified citizens throughout the province. 1,715 replied and volunteered to serve as members of the Assembly. In Ontario, 123,489 citizens were identified during a random electronic draw from the Permanent Register of Electors. Each citizen received a letter inviting him or her to apply and 7,033 volunteered as candidates. Ultimately, during a final selection process 158 names were drawn from among the candidates to participate as members of the BC Assembly. 103 were selected as members in Ontario.
Analysis and Lessons Learned
Civic lottery is a popular method of selection especially in countries which have or allow access to official citizen registries since a random sample can be extracted and the final selection can be made to reflect wider demographics. In this way, the method is ideal for participatory initiatives deciding on a contentious issue since the panel of participants are unlikely to be biased one way or another.
The efficacy of civic lottery is evidenced by its widespread use in a number of contexts. Its ability to produce an unbiased jury increases the legitimacy of the subsequent deliberative event.
 MASS LBP, "How to Run a Civic Lottery A Guide and Licence Version 1.2," April 9, 2018, https://static1.squarespace.com/static/55af0533e4b04fd6bca65bc8/t/5aafb4...