The Random Legislator


Image by Wikipedia user Marysas

The focus of this election cycle has started to shift; Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, has already begun his search for a running mate. In addition to the presidential election, contests for seats in state legislatures and Congress are starting to gear up. As this election year wears on, some people will begin to ask whether this is the best way to choose our legislators.

According to a group of Italian physicists, maybe not. The scientists, from the University of Catania, created a mathematical model of a parliament with two parties. They then proceeded to show how the efficiency of the parliament is improved when some of the legislators are selected at random, rather than elected. These random legislators they dub the “accidental politicians.”

If this sounds new, it really isn’t. Picking legislators at random has a long history, going back to ancient Greece and sortition. Maybe this will bring back the kleroterion?

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