Lottery Elections


I wrote this article in 1998. Then, the Supreme Court had not yet officially destroyed the little democracy we had through the Citizen United (2010).  Currently, elections are all about money. We have Plutocracy that uses Duopoly to fool people as if their votes matter.
In 2011, together with my colleague Layth Saleh al-Shaiban we drafted a progressive constitution,  which we called Peacemakers Constitution. One of the innovations in that constitution was adding another house elected through lottery to monitor the financial dealings, campaign finance and elections. The Peacemakers Constitution is posted on this very site,



© Edip Yuksel, J.D. *

“When politics desperately needs money, and money desperately seeks influence, money and politics cannot be kept apart.” (Ronald Dworkin, The Curse of American Politics, The New York Review of Books, October 17, 1996, p. 24).

“If you’ve got a good idea and $10,000 and I’ve got a terrible idea and $1 million. I can convince people that the terrible idea is a good one.” (Senator Bradley, Wayne, Loopholes Allow Presidential Race to Set a Record, The Washington Post, August 15, 1996, p. A26).

Some economists describe the human being with three adjectives: self-interested rational utility maximizer.[1] This description might seem insufficient to define such a complex being, but it provides a consistent explanation for almost all human behavior. Governments are the result of this human propensity. We know that we can maximize our interest if we interact with each other and cooperate. Thus, governments are regulatory national utility maximizers. Democracy, as the contemporary evolutionary stage of governing, so far is the best system to serve this purpose.[2]

Using this institution to get special favors, however, contradicts the original purpose of its establishment. We know from our human experience that this contradiction or inconsistency is not only logically incongruous, it also usually hurts.

For example, governments that serve only a minority fear free minds, since popular ideas can terminate their power. Democracies that are infected by interest groups tend to use freedom of speech as a commercial gimmick, as a safety net, or as a drug. Citizens are absolutely free to speak, but their speech is of little use in capitalistic systems where democracy is a sort of surrogate for the affluent oligarchy. Rarely do citizens realize that their freedom is impotent in the political arena, and that the degree to which the language of legislation is favorable to them is proportional to the amount of money they or their class “contribute” to political campaigns. Their options are limited by the candidates supported by interest groups, who most likely are the ones who sold their souls to the highest bidder.[3]

Democracy or Plutocracy: Welfare for The Rich

In this article I will demonstrate the corruptive role of money in our democracy and call for a solution. Though there are a number of plans proposed for campaign finance reforms, I think they are doomed to fail, since the elections, by their very nature are money dependent and money will ultimately find legal or illegal loop holes to influence the system. The unfortunate holdings of the Supreme Court blessing financial contributions as an exercise of one’s First Amendment right make it almost impossible to stop the war of money against the democracy. Here, I will suggest a radical alternative, lottery elections for the House members.

Special-interest democracies favor the most powerful and exploit the most vulnerable. This might be the consequence of Social Darwinism that governs the mind of the powerful elite. George Soros, the billionaire who gave $350 million for charity in 1995 alone, rightly criticizes the so-called laissez-faire ideology or social darwinism in his article titled “The Capitalist Threat”:

“By taking the conditions of supply and demand as given and declaring government intervention the ultimate evil, laissez-faire ideology has effectively banished income or wealth redistribution. I can agree that all attempts at redistribution interfere with the efficiency of the market, but it does not follow that no attempt should be made. The laissez-faire argument relies on the same tacit appeal to perfection as does communism. . . . But perfection is unattainable. Wealth does accumulate in the hands of its owners, and if there is no mechanism for redistribution, the inequities can become intolerable. “Money is like muck, not good except it be spread.” Francis Bacon was a profound economist.

“The laissez-faire argument against income redistribution invokes the doctrine of the survival of the fittest. The argument is undercut by the fact that wealth is passed on by inheritance, and the second generation is rarely as fit as the first.

“In any case, there is something wrong with making the survival of the fittest a guiding principle of civilized society. . . . The main point I want to make is that cooperation is as much a part of the system as competition, and the slogan “survival of the fittest” distorts this fact.[4]

Soros has a vision. He can see the inherent troubles of capitalism while the proponents of capitalism are intoxicated with arrogance after the demise of socialism. However, Soros ignores the fact that the American system is even worse than a laissez-faire system. The US government affirmatively helps the rich, probably more than it helps the poor.

In a country where the gap between the rich and poor is continuously increasing, in a country where 37% of net wealth is in the hand of the wealthiest 1% of the population, the influence of money on the legislative branch makes a mockery of democracy.[5]The old saying, “he who pays the piper calls the tune” applies. Special interest groups, ranging from public agencies to national or international corporations, create a system where the strong elite is made stronger and the majority is occasionally cheated and betrayed.  [As a reader’s comment under an article titled “Democracy for Sale” by John Cassidy at in June 22, 2012, N. Sinclair, American citizen, posted these profound questions: “The upshot of that inequality manifests itself in politics because money is its Mother’s milk. Is this the democracy we want – where access and influence are of necessity for sale? The Supreme Court says money is speech in a campaign. If so then unequal money is unequal speech. Hardly a recipe for democracy is it?”]

This betrayal is not merely political; it has social and economic consequences. The cumulative effect of subsidies and tax breaks favoring the lobbying corporations and organizations costs citizens dearly. It increases both their taxes and the national deficit, which puts their children under massive debt. The examples of corporate rip-off are abundant. For instance, the legislation banning generic drugs helped the brand-name-drug companies to increase their profits, at the cost of consumers.[6] TV station channels, like many other corporations, contributed to the political parties and candidates in terms of thousands, or at most, millions.[7] However, the return for their contribution was much more generous. They got more than the so-called harmless “access.” They received $30 billion–right, billions–worth of free licenses.[8] Credit card companies contributed $3.6 million in PAC and soft money and as a return they killed the Prompt Payment Act that would require banks and utilities to consider the postmark, not the receipt date as the payment date.[9] As a result, credit companies dramatically increased their profits from ever-increasing late fees. All kinds of special interest groups plunder billions of dollars from people by the help of legislators who are supposed to be the representatives of all people.[10]

The fatal attraction and addiction to and infection of money is also endangering the national security. “Everything from nominating ambassadors to selling F-16s to Indonesia is being colored by the campaign finance controversy.”[11] Allegations that China was funneling money to US campaigns should alarm not only those who are sensitive to international human right abuses, but all US citizens, since every citizen will pay the cost of such a reckless interaction with intrusive foreign viruses, that is, international terrorism.

People may become numb and insensitive to this infection. They may suffer from “Boiled Frog Syndrome.” When you put a frog in hot water, it jumps out; but, if you put the same frog in lukewarm water and gradually increase the temperature, the frog will boil to death without reacting. Gradual corruption in political or social bodies can have fatal consequences without eliciting reaction from most people. The decline and demise of many civilizations are the result of this gradual desensitizing corruption. Though there is increasing concern regarding the influence of money on the government, unfortunately, it is not enough to bring the needed radical changes. Voters are getting less interested in the political process without looking for alternatives.

Mutual Alienation

Participation in elections is low. In 1994 only 38% of the voting-age population voted.[12] A representative elected by 51 percent of these votes, mathematically speaking, receives the approval of less than 20 percent of the population. The quality of participation is also very low. A recent poll taken in Arizona shows that citizens are incredibly out of touch with their legislators.[13] Only 8 percent of the 800 adults who participated in the survey could name a state senator from their area. Only 5 percent of them could name one of their area’s House members[14]. Is this a natural response to the isolation of politicians or is it the reality of democracy in the modern world, or both? Probably, both. The fast paced daily life of an average citizen is consumed by work, family, TV, Internet, entertainment, etc., and leaves no time to learn about political issues and candidates. Expecting an informed election based on 30-second sound-bite political TV commercials is not realistic.

Those who can spare a little time to educate themselves are turned off when they realize that the candidates are professional actors and actresses. Some even give up entirely when they realize that their vote is irrelevant. According to a recent poll, Americans think that the government is being taken hostage by the rich and powerful. For instance, 57 percent of voters believe that the federal government is controlled by lobbyists and special interests.[15]

In a democracy where for every Congress member there are 125 lobbyists[16], in a democracy where most of the elected officials spend more time on fund raising activities than on making legislation,[17] in a democracy where the business-funded political action committees (PACs) are increasingly dominating legislators,[18] in a democracy where the chance of being elected is proportional to the amount of money in your pocket,[19] in such a democracy the principle of “one person, one vote”  is a joke.

Supreme Court: Money Speaks

The Congress, to save its tarnished public image, passed the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) Amendments of 1974 which imposed a $1,000 limit on contribution spending by independent individuals and groups. The Supreme Court in Buckley v. Valeo considered contribution limitations for campaigns to be constitutional, by reasoning that “the quantity of communication by the contributor does not increase perceptibly with the size of his contribution, since the expression rests solely on the undifferentiated, symbolic act of contributing.”[20] However, the contribution limitations imposed for candidates have been rendered useless by clever schemes. PACs[21] easily evade limits imposed by Buckley. For instance, a PAC gathers together separate campaign contributions from many sources and delivers them together to a candidate. This so-called “bundling” scheme enables a PAC to contribute far in excess of its contribution limits. Lobbyists have proved that they permeate like radioactive radiation to the political system.

The Buckley decision had an internal flaw. It allowed individual candidates or parties to spend unlimited amount of money for themselves, while it denied the same unlimited spending for individual citizens or groups wanting to contribute to someone else’s campaign. This distinction was in contradiction with the Court’s very reason for considering campaign contribution in its First Amendment jurisprudence. If spending money was equal to expression of ideas, how could Congress put limits on this vital right? Why should supporters not be able to speak up (spending) their ideas (money) in political campaigns as much as their candidates or parties do?

Two years later, in First National Bank v. Bellotti,[22] the same Supreme Court extended liberty to include financial contribution of corporations to the political referenda. The Court made a distinction between spending for candidates and spending on issues: “We noted only recently that the concept that government may restrict the speech of some elements of our society in order to enhance the relative voice of others is wholly foreign to the First Amendment.”[23]

Unfortunately, the Supreme Court ignored the impossibility of making a practical distinction between candidates and issues. One does not need to be a legal wizard to help a candidate by campaigning on issues. A key word, an implication, an innuendo, a symbol used in the promotion of an issue can easily be used to promote a particular candidate. Even a small advertisement agency has sufficient talents to render the Court’s holding useless in regard to this distinction.

The dissenting justices, White, Brennan and Marshall pointed to some of the problems in First National Bank: “Indeed, what some have considered to be the principal function of the First Amendment, the use of communication as a means of self-expression, self-realization and self-fulfillment, is not at all furthered by corporate speech.”[24] However, the dissenting justices acknowledged the immutable reality: “These individuals would remain perfectly free to communicate any ideas which could be conveyed by means of the corporate form. Indeed, such individuals could even form associations for the very purpose of promoting political or ideological causes.” [25].

There are a multitude of examples of how the legislation cannot stop interest groups from manipulating elections:

Federal campaign law bars New York publishing heir Dirk Ziff from giving more than $1,000 to his favorite candidate for president. But Ziff, who backs President Clinton, gave the Democratic Party $380,000 last year, money that will be used to help finance the president’s re-election campaign. Ziff’s contribution–perfectly legal–spotlights how political parties, candidates and special interests are exploiting the loopholes in campaign finance laws. [26]

Though it is only the tip of the iceberg–in other words, the pimple of a dreadful disease–the unregulated gift contribution (in political euphemism, “soft money”) to political parties from individuals, corporations and unions is a popular concern of the day. “‘Soft money’ apparently too hard for US lawmakers to relinquish” was the title of a report in The New York Times: “For all the flaws in the system . . . many representatives and senators see the same redeeming virtue in leaving the laws alone. This system got them elected.”[27]

Vice President Al Gore, who hosted 23 coffee meetings for contributors in the White House, and solicited donations on the telephones, defended his fund-raising methods as being legal. True, it was legal, but every legal action is not necessarily moral or approved by the public. This impenitent attitude was incredible. A columnist lamented:

“In its determination to be fair, America has introduced law into every corner of life: the lone consumer can get even with the biggest corporation, the lone citizen can humiliate the mighty government in court. And yet, time and again, America is nagged by a sense that the law has made life less fair, not more so: the rich know the loopholes that protect their riches, the powerful work the rules so as to amass more power. And this nagging pessimism gives rise to a lament that has gained currency recently. Perhaps America should rely less on legal codes, and more on common-sense morality.”[28]

Another columnist rightly found the procedural rules “comically arbitrary”:

“The goal is not to keep politics from infecting governance but to keep money from infecting politics. Comically arbitrary procedural rules that allow fund raisers on Tuesday but not Thursday, or ban donors from the White House bathtub but not the shower, don’t merely miss the point. These rules also deodorize a lot of smelly behavior, even as they exaggerate the stink of other behavior that is no worse.”[29]

President Clinton, who turned the White House into a hotel for top contributors,[30] demonstrated contradictory positions. While defending political donations he asked again to overhaul campaign financing.[31] The reason behind this wobbly position was simple: “Clinton makes serious noises about campaign reform, but that may not be enough to change a cozy system that loves special-interest money.”[32]  The former Secretary of Labor, in his Washington diary, craftily reveals the power of corporations over the President:

“There is an awkward pause. Have I overstepped the line? The private dining room in one of Washington’s classiest restaurants suddenly feels like an inappropriate place to entreat the President of the United States to speak out against corporation irresponsibility.

“‘It seems to me,’ says Clare, weighing her words carefully, ‘that corporations are downsizing not only themselves but also a big part of the middle class.’ She’s bailed me out. I want to kiss her.

“I throw caution to the winds and ask Bill, ‘Would you be comfortable saying what Clare just said?’

“‘I have to keep myself from saying it every day,’ he says softly.”[33]

An anecdotal example from the “good old days” is worth mentioning. Marilyn Vos Savant, the famous columnist  with a recorded Highest IQ, answering a reader’s letter complaining from financial scandals around the White House, wrote: “Remember  how Harry Truman kept a motto on his desk in the Oval Office at the White House? It read, ‘The buck stops here.’ Well, I think someone should go in there and get the darned thing off the desk.”[34] Sure, the daily million-dollar-march in Washington is not a new phenomenon. The negative influence of money has always being a major concern of citizens. Unfortunately, politicians have responded to this concern by lip service.

Is the Congress doing better than the President? Dream on! Congressmen too are infected and addicted with the contributors’ money. They spend ample time chasing or pleasing contributors. Their secretaries spend most of their time on fund raising operations.[35] “Members of Congress may not offer overnight stays at the White House,” wrote David Grann and Erika Niedowski, “but they still promise their own mix of perks and politics.”[36] In an article titled “The Dirty Hill,” the authors charged the Congress of soliciting contributions from their offices and more importantly, selling legislation to the highest bidder.

“How shameless are they? In February, the man leading the House investigation into the Clinton fund-raising practices, Indiana Congressman Dan Burton, took a break from his do-good work and flew to Pebble Beach, California, to play golf in an AT&T-sponsored tournament with the company’s chairman, Robert Allen. As it happens, AT&T is competing with Sprint and MCI for a government telephone contract worth up to $10 billion. As it also happens, Burton’s Government Reform and Oversight Committee will oversee the awarding of that contract. Burton’s Pebble Beach outing was fairly discreet by the congressman’s standards.”[37]

It is evident that both parties have colluded against any dramatic change in campaign financing.[38]  In Colorado Republican Federal Campaign Committee v. Federal Election Commission the Supreme Court held the provision of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (FECA) imposing limits upon political party expenditures for general election unconstitutional. Though the Supreme Court’s concern about the First Amendment was laudable, the voice of dissenting justices about the corruption of political system cannot be ignored. Justice Stevens and Justice Ginsburg in their dissenting opinion raised their concern:

“It is quite wrong to assume that the net effect of limits on contributions and expenditures-which tend to protect equal access to the political arena, to free candidates and their staffs from the interminable burden of fund-raising, and to diminish the importance of repetitive 30-second commercials-will be adverse to the interest in informed debate protected by the First Amendment.”[39]

The dissenting Justices also expressed a sarcasm in a footnote that notices the reality that both parties thwart campaign finance reform:

“Congress surely has both wisdom and experience in these matters that is far superior to ours.  I would therefore accord special deference to its judgment on questions related to the extent and nature of limits on campaign spending. [FN*]  Accordingly, I would affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeals.

“FN* One irony of the case is that both the Democratic National Party and the Republican National Party have sided with petitioners in challenging a law that Congress has the obvious power to change.  See Brief for Democratic National Committee as Amicus Curiae;  Brief for Republican National Committee as Amicus Curiae.”[40]

The flagrant hypocrisy of politicians in their call for campaign finance reform incited a weekly magazine to depict them with awful words. “No shame and lots to gain. Everybody shakes the money tree while urging campaign reform.” [41] More likely, the tree-shakers will pass another lame campaign reform just to sedate the popular outrage.

As long as candidates need to campaign for elections, money will be the most important factor, both for election and for re-election. “The congressional hunger for money is understandable. As the average cost of a House campaign has risen to more than $500,000 and a Senate race to $4.5 million, lawmakers are forced, as one Democratic consultant put it, to ‘pimp themselves.’ ” [42] The strong correlation between interest group endorsements and election outcomes for Congress is a statistical fact. Those who were endorsed by major interest groups gained great advantage over those who were not.[43] Thus, a person has virtually no chance of being a candidate of either major political party if he or she cannot raise hundreds of thousands of dollars!
The influence of money continues after the elections. A recent study shows a strong correlation between voting patterns and contributions. For instance, the Congress bowed down to the peanut industry when it preserved the subsidy to the peanut industry in 1996. “Lawmakers voting to preserve the subsidy had received an average of $1,542 each in campaign contributions from the industry in the last two-year election cycle. Those voting to end the peanut program had received an average of $152 apiece.”[44] The same correlation can be found in voting patterns regarding Timber, Cable, Sugar, Oil Industry, etc.[45] Those voting for subsidizing the big industries received much more special-interest money than those who voted against. Nancy Watzman, who co-authored the study, acknowledges the existence of other factors besides money that determine the voting behavior of lawmakers, such as party politics, constituent interests, ideology and friendship. But in the 42 issues she examined she found the correlation between voting pattern and special interest-contribution too strong to be coincidental.[46] A lobbyist directory pulled its readers’ attention to the simple fact that lobbyists are trying to influence the law makers: “It is important to note that while this group of 17,500 shares one goal–influencing the actions of our federal government–the motivations for and means by which they accomplish this are quite diverse.”[47] The diversity of the means employed by the lobbyists were documented in the second part of the same directory through an impressive list of monetary campaign contribution by those groups.

Real Solutions, Phony Solutions

Campaign reform is in trouble given the latest Supreme Court decisions. Unless the Supreme Court is ready to overturn Buckley, a Constitutional amendment would be needed to restrict the influence of interest groups. House Minority leader Dick Gephart, who is working for such an amendment, put the problem in terms of the following dilemma: “What we have is two important values in direct conflict: freedom of speech and our desire for healthy campaigns in a healthy democracy. You can’t have both.”[48] Contrasting democracy with freedom of speech is bizarre. How can democracy and freedom of speech be incompatible? It is only possible in a world where democracy turns to lobbyocracy and ideas are equated with money. Given the gloomy chances of the McCain-Feingold reform bill, a more radical measure, such as passing Constitutional amendment is merely a utopia.[49] Walter Shapiro, in an amusing satire wrote: “The McCain-Feingold reform bill has about as much pulse as a 103-year-old cardiac patient.”[50]

Besides, reform is not a real solution. The current termite-like lobbying activities in Washington are the evidence of the failure of legislative measures against interest groups. Even if by a miracle the anti-interest lobbying amendment passed, the influence of money would still continue, either legally through new loopholes or illegally, under the table. In a populous country where an individual is bombarded by hundreds of commercial messages every day, the very nature of elections is money-dependent.

Some suggest a more radical approach, a complete prohibition of private contributions. Richard L. Hasen, professor of law at the Chicago-Kent College of Law, believes that disillusionment with the current political process requires “serious” electoral reform which aims to create an “egalitarian pluralist political market.”  In that market, “each person has roughly equal political capital regardless of preexisting disparities in wealth, education, celebrity, ability, or other attributes. . . It minimizes the impact of wealth on the political system and empowers those who currently lack political capital.”[51] But his proposed model, which argues for a mandatory campaign finance system in which each voter supports his or her favorite candidates by vouchers, ignores the fact that those candidates with more money or celebrity will eventually have more media coverage and name recognition and thus, will most likely receive more “coupons.”

Prohibition of campaign spending entirely is also among the suggested solutions. Instead of TV or conventional media, personal contact and the Internet would be deployed:

“Special Web servers and newsgroups could be set up to handle the candidate’s debates–while including the commentary and reactions of others as well. For those of us who aren’t online yet, the newspapers will pick up the slack, reprinting transcripts of the net traffic. T.V. has its place too, carrying debates, not advertisements.”[52]

This suggestion ignores the fact that campaign through Web pages and Internet is also money dependent. Special interest groups can attempt to influence candidates by allocating web pages, bulk e-mailing, etc., for their campaign. The more web pages the more chance of being heard and consequently being elected. Besides, few citizens have the luxury of time and talent to find useful political information in the jungle of Internet. If elections were heavily dependent on this source, the clutter in related web sites would discourage even me, an experienced netsurfer.

Another suggested solution is participatory democracy. Direct involvement and participation of citizens through town meetings, public hearings, citizen advisory committees, charter drafting and amendment referendum, initiative, etc. are listed as practical techniques of such a system. Ronald Dworkin, in his article titled “The Curse of American Politics” argued that public should participate political enterprise in a more collective sense:

“To achieve that sense of a national partnership in self-government, it is not enough for a community to treat citizens only as if they were shareholders in a company, giving them votes only in periodic elections of officials. It must design institutions, practices, and conventions that allow them to be more engaged in public life, and to make a contribution to it, even when their views do not prevail. . . . No citizen  is entitled to demand that others find his opinions persuasive or even worthy of attention. But each citizen is entitled to compete for that attention, and to have a chance at persuasion, on fair terms, a chance that is now denied almost everyone without great wealth or access to it.”[53]

Electronic democracy through “televoting,” “electronic congress” and “electronic town meetings” are the latest ideas in this category. Ted Wachtel, in his book, The Electronic Congress, defended this alternative: “If heeded by congressmen, regularly held national referendums would legitimize legislative decisions and provide selective opportunities to transfer some decision-making directly to the public. Included in the legislative process, citizens would feel connected to their representatives.” [54] Even if we ignore the economic and social cost of direct participation, however, it is susceptible to becoming a power base for only those who have time on their hands, such as the elderly. Its chance of being adopted by the American people in the near future is another question. Nevertheless, its successful practice in Switzerland is a compelling reason to consider it as a viable option to our money-plagued democracy.

In this brief essay I cannot fairly evaluate all of these and other arguments for restoring, reforming or resurrecting democracy. None of the above mentioned solutions, however, is mutually exclusive from the lottery system that I propose for the election of House members.

Lottery System

Every citizen who meets the qualifications enumerated in Article I, sections 2 and 3 of the Constitution could become a candidate by filling out a simple application form. This application can be automatically done during voter registration. Every registered person will have an equal chance of becoming a member of Congress. The election or selection can be conducted by mechanical devises or computers with sufficient security and supervision.

Lottery voting can work very well for choosing members for the House of Representatives since its size can absorb the few eccentric or extreme members that may result. The lottery system would not work for electing presidents or governors, since it would be too risky. An eccentric person could cause chaos. This system is not recommended for choosing senators either, since their number is relatively small, and more importantly, diversity in election methods among governmental branches creates a healthier checks and balances mechanism. The president and senators would be elected through traditional voting, judges would be appointed by elected people, and members of Congress would be directly elected through lottery.

Initially, I did not take the idea of a lottery system seriously. Remembering the ancient Greek practice of election by lottery led me to consider it as a possible alternative to conventional elections,[55]  Luis Fuentes-Rohwer, briefly evaluated this historical practice in a law review article:

“Ancient Athenians adhered to a strict conception of democracy. In this sense, when they asserted that the people ruled, they meant every word of it. Their commitment to democratic rule was evident in their procedure for electing political and administrative officers. Citizens were elected to these offices randomly, without any competency or property requirement. While this proposal may seem much too radical for modern democracies, it would appear less so if our society adhered to the Athenian notion of isonomia, where all citizens are politically equal in a sense much stricter than the one espoused by American political standards.”[56]

Though I do not fully subscribe to the Athenian practice of lottery elections, I believe that they might provide a healthy boost for the ailing modern democracies if lottery elections are balanced by the conventional elections. Knowing the constitutional precedent in jury selection encouraged me to reflect on the lottery election furthermore.

To my surprise, I found an article suggesting lottery election by Akhil Amar in the Yale Law Journal.  In the first paragraph of the introduction, Amar expresses the theme of his article:

“Under ‘lottery voting,’ citizens would vote for representatives in local districts, much as they do today. Rather than automatically electing the candidate who receives a majority or plurality of votes, however, lottery voting chooses the winner in a lottery of the ballots cast: A single ballot is randomly drawn, and the candidate chosen on that ballot wins the election. If A receives sixty percent of the overall vote and B gets forty percent, A does not automatically win; rather, A’s ex ante chances of winning are sixty percent and B’s are forty percent.”[57]

Amar’s concern is not the influence of money or interest groups, but proportional representation of minorities. His lottery system, therefore, does not cure the corruption caused by lobbies. Instead of being primarily used for the election of representatives, the money would be used to elect candidates.

When I started discussing the issue with my classmates and professors, their initial reaction to the idea was generally the typical negative reaction to the unfamiliar. Experiencing the same reaction, Amar, a decade later wrote another article in defense of his proposal. He wrote:

“Now I am sure that some people will think that this lottery voting system is at first blush preposterous, absurd, weird, Yale-ish or whatever; but hear me out. Perhaps this initial reaction is itself a reflection of how little most people understand social choice theory (and sometimes simple math). What else generates the initial reaction of resistance? Let me talk about some of the possibilities, and in the course of doing so I’ll lay out some of the things that I think we can learn by taking lottery voting seriously–at least as a thought experiment.”[58]

After discussing the issue with a score of people and reading relevant materials, certain details and arguments for a lottery election evolved. Let’s first consider some of the advantages  of a lottery system over the current political system and then go over some details.

  1. The current political system favors the wealthy and well-organized at the cost of the poor and those who lack the resources for lobbying activities. The lottery system, on the other hand, would be blind to such factors.
  2. The current political system is costly for society. Time and energy spent on fund-raising activities distract incumbent legislators from focusing on the job they were elected to do. The wasteful and negative spending of contributions on pollsters, spinners, twisters, and dirty ads create mind pollution and misinformation. A lottery system, however, would neither require nor encourage such corruption.
  3. The current political system is elitist. It does not reflect the diverse demographic profile of America. Women, ethnic and minority groups have always been underrepresented. The social background of the members of Congress is evidence of this elitism. “No myth dies  harder in American politics than the log cabin, rags-to-riches notion that anyone can be elected president or a member of Congress. Although there are exceptions to the normal patterns, age, father’s occupation, family connections, and education are significant determinants of who is elected to Congress.” [59]  For instance, eight presidents, three vice presidents, thirty senators, twelve governors, fifty-six House members, and nine cabinet officers belong to just sixteen “dynasty” families.[60] “Blue-collar workers, the service sector, and farmers are underrepresented. About three-fourths of the members of Congress come from banking, business or law activities.” [61]  A lottery system would be blind to these biases in political representation.
  4. The current political system has created political apathy and disillusionment. The percentage of voters is alarmingly low. People are losing faith in the political process and in government so much so that opportunistic politicians are trying a foolish tactic of distancing themselves from government and politics. A congress elected by lottery voting would statistically reflect a cross-section of the population and would bring back faith in and respect for democracy.
  5. By limiting the lottery election to the House we can still experience the “exciting” adventure of the electoral process for members of the Senate and the president. Having some legislators who do not owe their allegiance to any interest-group will create a healthier checks and balances mechanism among the branches of American government.
  6. Professional politicians usually produce laws with complicated language and jargons. Lottery elections will help to simplify the language of legislation.[62]

Some details

Keeping a crystal clear rule, such as “one person, one chance” has great advantages for its simplicity and popular appeal. But, we may need to address some possible problems. The following specific details are just some thoughts regarding certain issues. Therefore, they should not be evaluated based on their specific contents; but on the relevancy and validity of the underlying concerns.

There is a reasonable argument for a certain degree of manipulation of chances. In view of the strong correlation between education and amount of acquired knowledge, citizens’ chances could be increased proportional to their education. (Illiteracy could be considered a reason for disqualification as well as having a record of mental instability.) For instance, a high school degree may increase their chance by 2, a university degree by 4, a doctorate by 8. Valuing education level as the only favoring factor can be criticized as an elitist manipulation; but it still has an advantage over the current system, since it would still be virtually blind to gender, religion, family connection, wealth, occupation, etc. Yet, even after the education-biased adjustment, the Congress elected by lottery probably would have less educated members than the current Congress. Approximately 90 percent of congressmen hold a college degree, compared to 17 percent of the American population.[63] The people who have practically no chance of getting elected in the current system thus would have at least a chance to be elected in an educationally manipulated lottery system.

To attract those elected to accept the job, salaries should be equal to the annual income of the median American family or to the salary of previous occupation, whichever is greater. Those who are employed by the government will be guaranteed a return to their previous positions after the end of their terms.

To encourage participation in the legislative process and discourage vacations and indolence, some incentives could be designed. For instance, those who attend the House meetings, say more than 200 days a year will be on a special list of the next lottery elections. Out of this list, up to 50 names could be drawn for the second and last term. The number of re-elected representatives should not exceed 10 percent of the total. This incentive may also create a healthy dose of continuity in a House whose members statistically have zero chance of re-election.

Finally, this model should first be tested in the government of small cities. If the results are promising then its scope can be widened to include the House of Representatives.

Lottery Elections For Redistricting Committee In The Pima County

While writing this paper I received surprise news from my professor. Pima County, Arizona had decided to elect the Redistricting Committee members through lottery election. Here is the relevant part of the draft:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           DRAFT – Pima County Charter                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  April 7, 1997                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Page 10


Section 6.01 Board Districts; Adjustment of Districts (To be Considered on April 7, 1997)

  1.  There shall be five supervisorial districts.
  2.  The process of drawing supervisorial districts shall be independent of the Board.
  3.  There shall be a Redistricting Committee of eleven (11) members, selected at random from a list of all registered voters in County. Using commonly accepted methods of random selection, the County Attorney shall administer the selection process. At a public drawing, the County Attorney or his or her representative shall develop a list of potential Committee members. The County Attorney shall contact each individual on the list, describe to him or her the tasks that would be involved with serving on the Redistricting Committee, and determine whether each individual would be willing to serve as a member of Redistricting Committee. From among those expressing willingness to serve, there shall be a second random selection process, which shall produce an initial list of eleven (11) committee members and fifteen (15) alternatives. From this initial list, each member of the Board may delete, in his or her unfettered discretion, on prospective Committee member from the list. After Board members have exercised this power, any vacancies on the Committee shall be filled from the list of remaining alternates. As the Committee undertakes its responsibilities, any vacancies that occur shall be filled from the remaining list of alternates.[64]

This proposal, if passed, will provide a valuable test. I would like to analyze this draft of Pima County Charter and compare it with congressional elections done via lottery. First, the number of committee members, that is eleven, appears to be too low. If this number is under the threshold of a fair statistical representation, then, its legitimacy can be questioned. Second, the idea of randomly elected candidates being examined by the Board is a good idea, but it could be better. It is a good idea, since it takes care of a legitimate concern regarding eccentrics gaining too much power in close-vote cases. But, it could be better, since the method of elimination, in my opinion, usually works against candidates with strong convictions and character, as it happens with jury selection–use of peremptories.[65] Each board member will eliminate the strongest candidate that they perceive to be politically their adverse. The survivors of this elimination process will most likely will be those who lack strong background and opinions. I think this is a loss of quality.

Instead of elimination, I would propose selection. Each Board member should elect the ones that they think the fittest for the committee. This way, hopefully, the strongest candidates will be elected to the committee. The selection will also put a certain degree of responsibility on those who did the selection.


There are legitimate concerns, questions and criticism regarding the conse-quence of lottery elections. Of those, I will respond to the five important ones. Below, the questions or concerns are written in bold characters, each followed by my response.


Selection by lottery would be random, so the quality of their decisions would indeed be far more reflective of the population at large than the quality of the decisions of the current body. However, once they have relocated to Washington and begun deliberating, they will gradually deviate more and more from the population due to the (now) unique conditions under which they make their decisions (an office in Washington, lots of power, etc.). They would thus be more representative of the general population than the current body, but we could never attain perfect representativeness (in a statistical sense) by selecting people and sending them to Washington.[66]

True, power corrupts; however, there are good reasons to be optimistic. First, there are available measures. All gifts or contributions can be prohibited for the entire term. Like all federal employees, the House members will be subject to the employment law. There won’t be a First Amendment problem since there won’t no political campaign for their election. Furthermore, the lack of lengthy campaign activities or the probable lack of previous political activities will provide some extra time for those who are susceptible to corruption. The elected members for the House are corrupted by the power of money long before they are elected. They need money if they want to serve in the office. Even those who abhor the corruption and influence of money are obliged to bow down to this corrupt process. It is a Catch 22.

What is to prevent the elected individuals from maximizing their self-interest? Nothing. But, we should pray that they would look after their self-interest, in terms of voting for a particular legislation. Why? Because their self-interest is statistically analogous to the very self-interest of the general population. The very nature of the sample body will make such worries trivial.

The lottery-elected representatives with their diverse backgrounds will have less propensity for misrepresentation. For instance, a small businessman who was elected for four years to represent his district will be concerned about both the interest of his district and small businesses and after four years of service he will probably turn to his previous job. He has friends and perhaps relatives are in that sector. If he looks after his interest he will be protecting the class or the category of the population he is coming from. Similarly, the teachers, the factory employees, the secretaries, the jobless, the doctors, the housewives, the blacks, the blues, the greens will be expected to promote their self-interest. The negotiation among diverse interests will create compromises for the interest of the entire population.


435 people constitute a rather small sample size. Where public opinion is evenly divided over some issue, the statistical uncertainty is plus-or-minus 4.7% if you can tolerate one out of twenty decisions’ not being representative of the population (although close). That’s the 95% confidence interval criterion, which is the one most commonly used. The implications for the decision-making body are that you need a margin of at least 4.7% to constitute a plurality in any decision. Thus, for example, if the vote is 235 to 200 to ban handguns, you have an 8% spread and therefore the ban should pass. However, if the spread is 20 or less, e.g., only 227 to 208, then there is no way to tell whose side actually represents the dominant position in the population, so no action could be taken that ostensibly represents the “popular” view[67]

This problem can be reduced by increasing the number of seats, but this will be a trade off from efficiency. It will take much longer to pass legislation in a House with a larger population. This problem is inherent in all democratic bodies. There will be always some imprecision in both elections and representation as well. We do not have a solution for this problem in a representative democracy. As for referendums, it is practically impossible to have referendums for every piece of legislation. Besides the efficiency and participation, the quality of referendums will be another concern. Time constraints of citizens and misinformation eliminates frequent referendums from being an alternative to representative system.

Here, I would like to shed an optimistic light on the problem of statistical uncertainty in representing the “popular” view. Close margins might work against “popular” view, but still they will not be very “unpopular,” since they will represent, according to the hypothetical, approximately 45% of the population. Furthermore, the random nature of lottery election will not let this anomaly continue forever. Within several elections the close margins might work in favor of the “popular” view. True, most of us have primary concerns, but we know that our interest in the legislation usually involves more than a single-issue. Since we have little reason to believe that lottery-elected members will limit their diverse perspectives within the political lines of the two major parties, future legislation might reduce the impact of past legislation accepted with close margins. The close margin that worked against the slightly “popular” view of hand-gun owners, in another vote, might please most of them with a slightly “unpopular” legislation, say, permitting the hunting of hyenas with arrows.


An election through lottery will give too much negotiation power to a few eccentrics in cases where the margin of opposing views is too close. [68]

This appears to be a legitimate concern, however, the problem is not unique to lottery election. Any population, be it elected by lottery or by popular vote, will always have some eccentric individuals, since eccentricity is a relative concept. Putting aside the problem in defining the “eccentric” in an absolute sense, I think it is not something to worry about. The divided “non-eccentrics” will obviously will not become eccentric themselves, since it is not a contagious disease. Therefore, they may prefer compromising with the other “non-eccentric” parties instead of going along with the “deviant” or “bizarre” wishes of the few “eccentric” ones. Why worry about the free-market of ideas?

If this is a really serious concern, I will suggest a process of selection by the Senate. Each senator can be granted a right of picking half of the lottery-elected candidates coming from his/her district. For instance, the Arizona senators McCain and Kyl each will pick three new House members out of total 12 candidates who were elected by the lottery conducted in Arizona. This process might also relieve another legitimate concern regarding the quality of lottery-elect body. As I argued above, the elimination process tends to reduce the quality of remaining population. Each senator will be tempted to eliminate the most potent candidates that he/she thinks has opposing political convictions. But, if they are required to select among the elected ones, then, they will most likely pick the ones that they consider the most potent ones.


A lottery system could minimize influence. It would produce a cross section of the population and all gifts or contributions could be banned. There would be no need for political campaigning. Instead of citizen soldiers, we could have citizen politicians with rotation in office. However, elections might be viewed as performing a valuable function. There may be a need for more than a cross section of the population. Elections may furnish that quality. This view may necessitate the acceptance of a system which permits influence in order to be able to get the benefit of those other qualities. More important, perhaps elections are the source of a class of the population which makes political issues its professional specialty. Without elections there would be no class of professional politicians and, therefore, no group whose function it was to study the public’s desires and interests. Political parties came into being to contest elections. Without them, it is not clear what the information and normative world facing representatives elected through a lottery system would be like. Moreover, the process of discussion would be enervated without parties and professionals. Elections educate and representatives’ views form part of the definition of their constituents’ interests. In other words, free speech may depend on the people it is designed to oversee. Without free speech, it may be institutionally difficult to conduct the discussion necessary to enlightened self-government. As a consequence, competition is fundamental. [69]

That’s one of the reasons why I propose the lottery election for only House members. Employing lottery elections for a part of the government, therefore, does not exterminate political parties and their professional politicians. They will remain as a dynamic factor in the elections of Senate members and Presidency and they will have the power to influence the results of lottery elections to a certain degree. However, a money-dependent corrupt system generating corrupt politicians is the side-affect of the modern democracies. Trying to reduce this side-effect is essential for the survival of the democratic system.


Conducting the lottery through computer might create suspicion and paranoid conspiracy ideas in the society.[70]

Computers are closed boxes (like close societies) and God knows what goes on inside their chips and circuits. Software and hardware programs, for instance, can be secretly designed to manipulate the results. Even the micro-chip manufacturers might manufacture chips that will pick the social security numbers from their hidden memories. Therefore, the lottery election should be done in each state via mechanical (not electronic) lottery devices. Many states have lotto or powerball drawings.  (Ironically, I consider this sort of lottery an unjust distribution of wealth and exploitation of dreams). Apple-size balls, each stamped with visible large numbers are in a transparent sphere and they are one by one pulled out by a machine. The simple mechanics and visibility of this drawing combined with live broadcasting via TV leaves no room for reasonable suspicion. When we add the fact that the lottery election will be monitored by rival politicians, the process of lottery-election becomes a reliable random drawing.

The lottery election can be done in a previously announced hour, so that the citizens of that state can experience a live political (?) spectacle on their TV.[71] Each drawing will declare a 9-digit number presumably indicating a social security number of a candidate. This number could be immediately put into the nearby computer. If the computer matches it with the social security number of a registered eligible citizen, then the name of the primary candidate would be announced.

Simply-designed application forms for candidacy should contain several multiple choice questions to assess the eligibility or chance factor for each applicant. Those forms will be automatically scanned to computers and the data will be used both during the lottery election and afterwards. Here, the reliability of computers is not an issue, since it is about retrieving stored data which can be checked anytime later. For instance, in Arizona, twelve of the eligible primary candidates will be declared to be the final candidates. Six of them, later, will be approved by Arizona senators and they will become the new members of the House.


We might still consider American government “by the people,” but we are becoming less sure whether it is “for the people” and “of the people.” [72] It is incumbent on us to protect our republic and democracy from the hegemony of interest-groups and money. Otherwise, the name of our political system should be officially changed from democracy to lobbyocracy or plutocracy, if we want to avoid hypocrisy.

The lottery system is just one of the alternative solutions. If it works for selecting 12 members of a jury, then, it could work for selecting 435 members of Congress. We are trusting the decision of 12 randomly chosen citizens on life and death issues, why not trust 435 randomly chosen citizens to participate in running the government?

*     Author, human rights activist. J.D., University of Arizona College of Law (1998). The author is thankful to Toni M. Massaro, professor at the University of Arizona College of Law, for her encouraging and helpful comments on this article. My ultimate thanks go to God for enabling me to immigrate to America, the land of freedom. Author can be reached via <>

[1] For the story of this human propensity in the domain of property use, see: Carol Rose, Property as Storytelling, 2 Yale J.L. & Humanities 37, 50 (1990).

[2] The 1990 Webster’s College Dictionary defines democracy as: government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.

[3] Unfortunately this is true. “In nine out of ten Congressional races, the candidate with the most money wins–even in the ‘revolutionary’ elections of 1994.” (Center for Responsive Politics,

[4] George Soros, The Capitalist Threat, Atlantic Monthly, February 1997, pp. 45-58.

[5] Federal Reserve Board, in March 1992 released a paper showing a dramatic increase in the concentration of wealth between 1983 and 1992, with the share of the top 1 percent of families rising from 31 to 37 percent. For an excellent article evaluating the Census data on the growing gap between the rich and poor, see: Paul R. Krugman, The Rich, the Right and the Facts; Deconstructing the Income Distribution Debate, The American Prospect, No. 11, (Fall 1992): 19-31. For another excellent article on the growing income gap, see: Robert H. Frank, Talent and the Winner-Take-All Society, The American Prospect, No. 17 (Spring 1994): 97-107.

[6] The U.S. News &  World Report published a  spectacular report titled Hang on to your wallet in its April 14, 1997 issue, pp. 26-31. I recommend this report for those who wonder the dimension of plunder conducted by corporations and their accomplice legislators. Here are some excerpts from the report: “TV station owners got $30 billion worth of free licenses without being required to give free TV time to political candidates. The power of political money sabotaged the best chance to reduce the power of political money. . . Cable TV lobbyists promised that competition would mean low cable rates. Competition hasn’t increased. Cable rates have. . . Lawmakers once banned dubious ‘dread disease’ insurance policies. But industry money helped change their minds.”

[7] Id. at 27.

[8] Id. at 27.

[9] Id. at 30.

[10] Id. at 31.

[11] Susan Page, White House has big-donor jitters, USA Today, April, 8, 1997, 6A.

[12] In recent presidential elections, American voter turnout has been little more than 50%:

1960                                Kennedy-Nixon                   63.1%

1964                                Johnson-Goldwater             61.8%

1968                                Humphrey-Nixon                60.7%

1972                                McGovern-Nixon                55.4%

1976                                Carter-Ford                                           54.4%

1980                                Carter-Reagan                     52.6%

1984                                Mondale-Reagan                53.1%

1988                                Bush-Dukakis                      50.1%

1992                                Bush-Clinton                        55.2%

Congressional Quarterly’s Guide to U.S. Elections, Congressional Quarterly Inc., Washington, D.C., 1994, pp. 420-422. & Congressional Quarterly’s Guide to U.S. Elections, Congressional Quarterly Inc., Washington, D.C., 1982, p. 615.

[13]  Voters Key Issues Unaddressed by Legislators, Survey Indicates, The Arizona Daily Star, June 16, 1996, 1A.

[14]  Id.

[15] Kenneth T. Walsh, No Shame and Lots of Gain, U.S. News & World Report, March 3, 1997, p. 32.

[16] For the alphabetical list of 17,500 lobbyists who advocate on behalf of various companies, labor unions, associations, government entities and special interest groups see: Washington Representatives, J. Valerie Steele, eds. et al., Columbia Books Inc., Washington DC., (1996). (

Lobbying is considered a Constitutional right under the last clause of the 1st Amendment: “the right of the people . . . to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Wondering whether I am not aware of the full meaning of the word “petition” I consulted my Random House Webster’s Dictionary (1991). I could not find “financial contribution” in the definition of petition! Extending the Constitutional right to the main practice of today’s special-interest lobbying that has beleaguered Washington and State capitals requires a religious dedication to the philosophy of Adam Smith.

[17] Ronald Dworkin articulated this fact from the horse’s mouth: “But money is the biggest threat to the democratic process. The time politicians must spend raising money in endless party functions and in more personal ways–not only during an election campaign but while in office, preparing for the next election–has become  an increasingly large drain on their attention. Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa complained in 1988. ‘As soon as a Senator is elected here, that Senator better start raising money for the next election 6 years down the pike. Everyone here does it, and to deny that is to deny the obvious and to deny what is also in the record.'” Ronald Dworkin, The Curse of American Politics, The New York Review of Books, October 17, 1996, p. 19.

[18] Political Action Committees are political entities that engage in election-related activities. PACs are affiliated with corporations, labor unions, political organizations, etc. The number of PACs has risen dramatically in last 20 years, from 608 PACs in 1976 to more than 4,000 PACs in 1996. For the list of PACs and their political contribution and financial tables, see: The PAC Directory, The Federal Committees, edited by David U. Geevy, Chadwick R. Gore, and Marvin I. Weinberger, Pac Research Ltd. Ballinger Publishing Co., Cambridge, MA (1991).

[19] See: David Grann, infra note 42, at 23.

[20] Buckley v Valeo, 481 U.S. 1, 20 (1976)

[21] See: The PAC Directory,  supra note 18.

[22] 435 U.S. 765 (1978)

[23] First National Bank v Bellotti, 435 U.S. 765, 791 (1978)

[24] Id., at 807

[25] Id., at 807

[26] Bruce B. Auster with David Bowermaster, Playing The Money Game, U.S. News & World Report, May 20, 1996, p. 25.

[27] Soft money’ apparently too hard for U.S. lawmakers to relinquish, The Arizona Daily Star, April 6, 1997, (quoting from The New York Times).

[28] Lexington, Al Gore falls to earth, The Economist, March 8, 1997.

[29] Michael Kinsley, The Conspiracy of Trivia, Time, March 17, 1997, p. 25.

[30] According to the Newsweek magazine, The Lincoln Bedroom was not the only thing for sale. A menu of the perks were out for sale in three packages: For $12,500, dinner and your picture taken with the president at a Washington hotel. For $50,000, coffee with Clinton and top administration at the White House. For $250,000, a full day at the White House. (Strange Bedfellows, Newsweek, March 10, 1997, p. 28). The commercial use of White House, is by no means a Clinton innovation. See: William M. Welch, GOP also used White House to attract big-money donors, USA Today, February, 26, 1997.

[31] Alison Mitchel, President Regrets Top U.S. Regulator Met With Bankers, The New York Times, January 29, 1997, front page.

The USA Today in its April 17, 1997 issue published the list of top 150 contributors to political parties in 1995 and 1996. (p. 6A). The donations were ranging between $138,000 and $661,000.

[32] Nancy Gibbs, The Wake-Up Call, Time, February 3, 1997,

[33] Robert B. Reich, Locked In The Cabinet, The New Yorker, April 21, 1977, p. 49.

[34] Marilyn Vos Savant, Ask Marilyn, Parade Magazine, April 6, 1997, p. 9.

[35] Congressional Quarterly’s Guide to U.S. Elections, Congressional Quarterly Inc., Washington, D.C., 1982, pp. 584-585.

[36] David Grann and Erica Niedowski, The Dirty Hill, The New Republic, April 7, 1997, p. 21.

[37] Id.

[38] William M. Welch, GOP also used White House to attract big-money donors, USA Today, February 26, 1997.

[39] Colorado Republican Federal Campaign Committee v. Federal Election Commission, 116 S.Ct. 2309, 2332, (1996). (Stevens, Ginsberg, JJ., dissenting).

[40] Colorado Republican, Supra note 39, at 2332.

[41] Kenneth T. Walsh,  No shame and lots to gain, U.S. News & World Report, March 3, 1997, p.32.

[42] David Grann and Erika Niedowski, The Dirty Hill, The New Republic, April 7, 1997, p. 23. The authors give some examples of bizarre fund-raising methods: “Former Republican Representative Enid Waldholtz of Utah, whose ex-husband was investigated for illegally pouring money into her campaign, became so anxious to fill her coffers that she exploited the birth of her first child. Days after she had given birth to Elizabeth in 1995, Waldholtz threw a party to introduce her little girl–not to family or close friends, but to $500-a-head contributors. GOP Congressman Bud Shuster of Pennsylvania has turned his birthday party into a $1,000-a-plate affair. And a former Democratic Congresswoman Barbara Rose Collins, in pursuit of money, even held a fund-raiser at a strip club in Detroit.”

[43] Harold W. Stanley & Richard G. Niemi, Vital Statistics On American Politics, Congressional Quarterly Inc., Washington, 1988, p.157.

[44] Campaign contributions reflect Congress’ voting, study shows, The Arizona Daily Star, January 23, 1997.

[45] Id.

[46] “It is sometimes said all that’s being bought and sold is merely “access,” not government policy itself. But access is worthless if it doesn’t affect policy, and experience has thought those who contribute that access works. And to state the obvious: it is unfair and undemocratic for those who buy access to have bigger voice in government than those who don’t.” Michael Kinsley, The Conspiracy of Trivia, Time, March 17, 1997, p. 25.

[47] Valerie Steele, supra note 16.

[48] Nancy Gibbs, The Wake-Up Call, Time, February 3, 1997.

[49] Time magazine briefly listed the five current reform bills and called McCain-Feingold bill a “dying” bill. Here are the “Five ways to fix the campaign Finance System:

1. The (dying) McCain-Feingold Bill: It would ban soft money, limit contributions from PACs and set voluntary spending limits for congressional candidates. Will it pass? Don’t bet on it.

2. Amend The U.S. Constitution: Spending caps could swallow the money chase. But the Supreme Court says limits violate free-speech guarantees. Carve out an exception to the First Amendment?

3. More Taxpayer-Supported Races: Presidential candidates who agree to spending caps get public financing for their campaigns. One Senate bill would extend that system to congressional races.

4. Give Candidates Cheaper Airtime: To cut campaign costs and the attendant fund-raising frenzy, have FEC distribute vouchers for TV and radio time that stations would be required to donate.

5. Let More Sunshine In: Lift all limits on money, but require candidates and parties to disclose data on contributors more fully, frequently and widely. On idea: post it all on the Internet.”

Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy, Legal Tender, Time, March 17, 1997.

[50] Walter Shapiro, The universal refrain for campaign reform: Let it be, USA Today, Aril 25, 1997, p. 12A. Gloria Borger, Also see, Cynical, even for Congress, U.S. News & World Report, March 3, 1997. p. 42: “Few senators really want full scale hearings that could bring down the campaign system.”

[51] Richard L. Hasen, Clipping Coupons for Democracy: An Egalitarian/Public Choice Defense of Campaign Finance Vouchers, 84 California Law Review 1, 6-7, (1996).


[53] Ronald Dworkin, supra note 17, at 23.

[54] Ted Wachtel, The Electronic Congress: A Blue Print for Participatory Democracy, 56 (1992).

[55] Wai Chee Dimock,  Residues of Justice, University of California Press, Berkely, 1996. The author dedicates a chapter to Lottery (p. 96) and refers to Barbara Goodwin’s book Justice by Lottery (1992).

[56] Luis Fuentes-Rohwer, The Emptiness Of Majority Rule, 1 Mich. J. Race & L. 195, 218-219 (1996).

[57] Akhil Reed Amar, Choosing Representatives By Lottery Voting, 93 Yale L.J. 1283, (1984).

[58] Akhil Reed Amar, Lottery Voting: A Thought Experiment, 1995 U. Chi. Legal F. 193, 195 (1995).

[59] The Encyclopedia of the United States Congress, Simon & Schuster, 1995, p. 1337.

[60] Id. at 1347.

[61] Id. at 1347.

[62] Professor Toni M. Massaro counted this among the good reasons for having jury trials: “This humanizing function serves the community by helping the law to operate in a way that is comprehensible to the people the law must serve. If legal theories are too complex for jurors, who represent the nonlegal community, then the theories must be simplified. Otherwise, the citizen who must abide by the law will not understand what it requires and therefore may not conform to its dictates.”  Toni M. Massaro, Peremptories Or Peers?-Rethinking Sixth Amendment Doctrine, Images, and Procedures, 64 N.C. L. Rev. 501, 514 (1986). Massaro’s article gives a brief historical account of trial by jury and proposes a “modest” change in the jury selection procedure and calls for abolishing the government’s peremptory challenges.

[63] The Encyclopedia of the United State Congress, Simon & Schuster, 1995, pp. 1371-1384. Also see: Congress A to Z, Congressional Quarterly Inc., Washington D.C., 1968, pp. 279-281.

[64] The Pima County Charter’s draft has other provisions such as the qualifications of members of the Redistricting Committee and their terms, etc.

[65] Professor Amar reminded the readers the jury system as an example of his version of lottery election. Nevertheless, he preferred a jury selection free of interference:  “But lotteries, you say. How can lotteries be anything but an abdication to irrationality and arbitrariness? Well, let’s think about a place where we do use lotteries to vindicate ideas of political equality and democratic deliberation: the jury. Here, we might put all the voters in a drum and pick twelve people out and they are your jury. This would be a different way of picking jurors than our current system, but the Supreme Court is, I hope, moving in that direction. It has focused much more in the last decade on the right of jurors to be represented and to participate rather than on the right of defendants to decide who will be on their jury. So the Court has been restricting peremptory challenges and other exclusionary measures. The Justices are moving towards an earlier vision that saw some interesting connections between the people’s representation in the lower house of the judicial branch through the jury and the people’s representation in the legislature itself.”  Amar, Supra note 58, at 201.

[66] This criticism was e-mailed to me by Richard Steven Voss, a Ph.D. candidate in Business Management.

[67] Id.

[68] This concern was raised orally by Robert Glennon, a law professor at University of Arizona.

[69]Stephen E. Gottlieb, The Dilemma Of Election Campaign Finance Reform, 18 Hofstra L. Rev. 213, 268-269 (Fall, 1989).

[70] This concern expressing distrust to electronic machines is from me. Though my computers have been my best confidants for more than a decade, I know that they are vulnerable to manipulations.

[71] This spectacle is primarily intended for those who crave the excitement of campaigns and the ritual of poking holes in cards in isolated dull compartments! Indeed, a whole night can be dedicated on lottery election on network TV channels, hosted by Letterman and Rush Limbaugh!

[72]  This popular expression is from Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg address in 1863. Lincoln defined democracy as: “a government of the people, by the people, for the people. . . our concept of democracy includes universal suffrage–one person, one vote–with freely conducted secret elections at stipulated intervals depending upon the location and the office. All governmental matters are subject to the Constitution of the United States, and to the several separate constitutions of the individual states.”