Rolling the Dice in California

William F. Buckley, Jr. once famously said that “I’d rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University.”  Voters in California may get a chance to test that idea.  “Repair California” is seeking to put an initiative on the state ballot that would call for a state constitutional convention and (try to) limit its mandate.  More important, the initiative would provide that the delegates be chosen randomly from the adult population of the State. That’s right — random selection.

It’s the ultimate form of campaign finance reform.

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4 Responses

  1. joe says:

    This may be randomness-glee overspilling from the prop. 11 implementation mechanism which requires random draws from qualified pools of candidates in two places.

  2. Tom says:

    I can’t help but think Buckley would have had a different opinion of the collected telephone directories of Fresno, Berkeley, Santa Barbara, Humboldt County, Santa Cruz, Laguna Beach, Torrance, etc., etc.

  3. A.J. Sutter says:

    Random selection of legislators was a technique used in ancient Athens. See Chap. 1 of Bernard Manin’s The Principles of Representative Government (English version: 1997).

    As for Buckley, it may be pertinent that he was a staunch Yale man.

  4. JrL says:

    Missouri uses random selection for its “Citizens commission on Compensation of Elected Officials”: “One member of the commission shall be selected at random by the secretary of state from each congressional district from among those registered voters eligible to vote at the time of selection.” Mo Const. Art XIII Sec 3. I have no idea how many draws the Secretary of State has to go through before getting someone who accepts the job, but those who do come take their responsibility very seriously. Whether they tend to follow the members selected by state officials, however, is something I don’t think anyone has studied.