Multi-Body Sortition

September 8, 2019 Scott Fletcher Bowlsby

A theoretical, multi-body sortition-based system of democratic governance forwarded by political scientist Terrill Bouricius that can be integrated into an existing system or form the basis of a fundamental reform such as replacing one or both elected chambers of a legislature.

Problems and Purpose

The use of multiple allotted bodies in the lawmaking process is designed to overcome five ‘dilemmas’ faced by modern proposals for the integration or use of sortition in current democratic institutions:

  1. Maximizing descriptive representation while ensuring the deliberative body’s members are interested and committed 
  2. Frequently rotating membership to broaden participation and increase resistance to corruption while ensuring members are familiar with the issues under consideration
  3. Ensuring every ensured citizen’s right to participate while avoiding domination by special interests due to self-selection
  4. Maximizing problem-solving through discussion and debate while avoiding polarization and group-think
  5. Investing the deliberative body with broad democratic powers while avoiding the ability for a few unrepresentative members to make arbitrary and/or self-serving decisions[1]

Origins and Development

Participant Recruitment and Selection

How it Works: Process, Interaction, and Decision-Making


Influence, Outcomes, and Effects

Analysis and Lessons Learned

See Also



[1] Bouricius, Terrill G., "Democracy Through Multi-Body Sortition: Athenian Lessons for the Modern Day," Journal of Public Deliberation, 2013,

[2] Correspondent Lof, "Het kan: een totaal andere inrichting van onze democratie," De Correspondent, February 21, 2014,

External Links