Communication Arts & Sciences and Political Science Senior Scholar, the McCourtney Institute for Democracy
The Pennsylvania State University



Research Topic Map Civil society and protest groups Communication in small groups The Australian Citizens' Parliament Jury behavior The Democracy Machine (online platform) The Group in society Democracy in Small Groups Civic Engagment The Jury and Democracy Group Decision Making Governance Theory and Practice of deliberative democracy Political Communication and Deliberation Delib. Democracy Handbook Democracy in Motion By Popular Demand The Citizens' Initiative Review Public forums, civic education, political socialization Direct Democracy
Sortition as an alternative to elections Public opinion and civic attitudes Public Opinion and Atts. Elections Cultural Cognition Project Voter Behavior, election dynamics, and campaings

By Popular Demand:
Revitalizing Representative Democracy through Deliberative Elections

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There are two problems in American politics. The first problem is that the public doesn't believe that the government represents its interests. The second problem is that they are right. When elected officials fail to represent the public's interests, government policies will not solve our most serious social problems. When the public loses trust in its elected officials, it becomes difficult for the government to govern, and citizens withdraw from the political process. By Popular Demand carefully examines these two problems and suggests how to address them.

By Popular Demand introduces a political reform that enables the public to discern its underlying interests, record its voice, and link this voice to collective voting choices. Government institutions could bring together randomly-selected panels of citizens to deliberate on candidates, ballot measures, and legislation. Each of the five proposed citizen panel designs follows a similar process: over four-to-five days, panelists meet with expert witnesses, deliberate among themselves, and reach judgments about candidates and issues. Afterward, election officials communicate the panel recommendations to voters through Internet sites, bulk-mailed voter guides, and information printed directly on ballots. If properly designed and implemented experimentally, these citizen panels could reach deliberative judgments, provide valuable information that voters would use, and, as a result, improve the quality of representation and restore public trust in government.

Watch an interview on By Popular Demand and public deliberation, conducted by Jim Rough's cable access show, Society's Breakthrough.

Follow-up notes on By Popular Demand: