Can the IQA Improve Random Sample?
Simple Random Sample
The initial IQA will be chosen as a simple random sample from all U.S. Citizens who are entitled to vote. This method does not involve any subjective decisions by sampling experts and is the most inclusive. It is the truest cross-section of the People and therefore the appropriate place to start. However, it will be an imposition on some of those selected; if this creates persistent serious problems, the IQA may be obliged to find ways to ameliorate and improve the situation.
It is recognized that other Citizens’ Assemblies have generally been selected by teams of experts using sophisticated and convenient methods. For example, they select Citizens from voter registration lists. They ask those selected if they wish to serve on the IQA. From those who are willing to serve, a stratified random sample is created that becomes the IQA. This is an efficient and effective way to create a IQA. However, it has some constitutional issues:
- Many Citizens who are entitled to vote are not registered. Failure to register does not infer an inferior class of Citizens—for example, since jury selection is often made from voter registration lists, many who feel unable to take time off work for jury duty do not register to vote—but they do pay their taxes.
- If Citizens have a general option to serve or not, Citizens who are passionate about a particular issue can agree amongst themselves to accept all invitations to serve on the IQA. This biases the IQA to a greater likelihood of a Candidate Initiative getting on the ballot that is favorable towards that particular issue. This type of bias has potential to become a troublesome factor.
For example in 2004, during selection of the B.C. Citizens’ Assembly, staff mailed 23,034 letters to randomly-selected voters. However, only 1,715 voters replied—i.e., 7.4 percent of those invited. Suppose that some vocal special interest group has sent out a mailing to their members. Suppose their membership constituted twenty percent of all voters and half of them accepted their invitation. This special interest group might then control the Assembly decisions on this matter.
Though there is no indication that an attempt was made to bias the B.C. Citizens’ Assembly, this may be because special interests were not interested or because they were caught unprepared. In the future, the problem may become significant.
- The creation of a stratified random sample by experts can lead to subjective decision-making, which can affect IQA composition.
These may be completely acceptable in a single-issue IQA. Time will tell what degree these accommodations for expediency may be justifiable for the planned IQA with its enduring constitutional responsibility. The Planned Amendment therefore permits future adaptation if it is necessary, but requires that the changes concerning criteria for selection of IQA members cannot be made without considerable debate and support:
Selection of IQA Members
INITIAL IQA COMPRISES
|POSSIBLE FUTURE IQA MIGHT COMPRISE||
AUTHORITY TO MAKE CHANGES
|A||Who May Be an IQA Member?||Citizens Entitled to Vote||Citizens Registered to Vote||By Direct Initiative Double Majority Vote|
|B||Who Must Serve on the IQA?||All Citizens Selected||Citizens Willing to Serve||By Direct Initiative Double Majority Vote|
|C||How are IQA Members Selected?||Simple Random Sample||Stratified Random Sample||By IQA Supermajority Vote|
Improve Random Sample
Today, possible changes from column 1 towards column 2 are interrelated. For example, finding Citizens willing to serve will generally be by geographic sampling areas. These can be found from the voter district registration lists, which consequently encourages a move towards Citizens registered to vote. Data generated this way can be used for a stratified random sample. However, at some future time, more comprehensive demographic databases may permit decoupling of columns 1 and 2 so the change options may become more flexible and the sample quality better.
Any decision to reduce the scope (rows A and B) of those serving on the IQA will be easier to make than to reverse due to the natural human tendency to perpetuate the easier solution. Therefore, the initial IQA must be the most rigorous and any reduction in scope of Membership shall be approved by the nationwide Electorate in a Direct Initiative. On the other hand, changes in the random sample procedure (row C) can be made by the IQA because any change can be reversed relatively easily.