Local Government Work

What’s Happening Now in Local Government?

Many of us don’t see ourselves represented in our government. Our elected leaders are still far less diverse than our communities and the decisions they make seem far removed from most of our  daily lives. While distrust in government is growing across the U.S.,  local decisions offer critical opportunities to rebuild trust and power within our democracy. But even as local governments expand their toolbox for community participation, most engagement is limited to one-directional or superficial feedback. Advocates and community members give testimony in public hearings with no meaningful response from decision makers. Their suggestions are often tied to established positions, encouraging debate and discouraging creative problem-solving. All the while, decision makers have exclusive access to the information, laws and policies that constrain key decisions.  Meanwhile, in-depth forums like boards and commissions are only open to those with specialized expertise or particular interests, leaving out those with lived experience about key issues. All too often, the same voices – those with the most access and privilege – have more voice in all of these spaces.

The ways we engage often leave most of us – the public, stakeholders, and decision makers – feeling frustrated and unheard. Everyone’s talking but no one is listening. Sounds like a lose-lose situation, right? It doesn’t have to be.

Benefits of Lottery-Selected Deliberation:

Deliberative processes complement current forms of representative government. Take the lose-lose situation described above, let’s flip it on it’s head. We use Lottery-Selected Deliberation to ensure that new voices are in the room and that they have all the information and tools to deeply engage the question at hand. In the end, Lottery-Selected Deliberation leads not only to incredible participant experiences, but also, to high-quality solutions that help answer some of today’s most challenging and pressing questions as well as renewed faith in our democracy.

Who is in the room?

Traditional EngagementLottery-Selected Deliberation
Self-selected by special invitation – overwhelmingly white, educated, male, higher socioeconomic status.Demographically representative of the community with opportunities to over-represent those who’ve been historically disenfranchised.

Informational Inputs

Traditional EngagementLottery-Selected Deliberation
One-sided conclusions with their own set of facts. Often unwilling to engage opinions or facts that don’t support their argument. Often little exposure or consideration of laws or codes that would inhibit their desired outcome.Access to the broadest range of accurate information from all sides to create a shared, comprehensive understanding of the issue at hand.

Type of Engagement

Traditional EngagementLottery-Selected Deliberation
One-way. Often no back and forth between the public and decision makers.Informed, interactive, thoughtful, iterative, emphasizes deep deliberation.

Type of Solution

Traditional EngagementLottery-Selected Deliberation
Mediated solution by decision-makers; Does not delegate real power to the public.Creative, comprehensive, inherently legitimate due to the expansive process.

Benefits to Policymakers:

Surfaces fresh perspectives & untapped ideas

Enhances mutual trust in governance

Benefits to Stakeholders & Advocates:

Allows for collaboration with new individuals dedicated to understanding diverse points of view

Benefits to the Public:

Fosters ownership over public decision making

Presents a model for collaborative, evidence-based discourse

Increases access for historically marginalized groups