The Civic Lottery Lab conducts research and supports organizations to design and deliver processes that recruit residents to serve on public juries, commissions, assemblies and reference panels.

Over the past decade, we have conducted several dozen Civic Lotteries reaching more than 350,000 households. With unparalleled expertise, the Civic Lottery Lab is undertaking a multi-year program of work to popularize the use of Civic Lotteries, develop new practices and standards, and provide technical support to governments and public participation practitioners.

Research program:


Technical advice

Process design

Editorial services

Postal liaison

What is a Civic Lottery?

Civic Lotteries are used to randomly select individuals to represent a community in a public process. Also know as ‘sortition,’ Civic Lotteries are based on a simple, random, and fair procedure that has been used throughout the world for millennia — the drawing of lots.

Each Civic Lottery is based on four criteria: (a) The community that will be represented, be it a neighbourhood, city, state or country; (b) The number of representatives that will be chosen; (c) The demographic criteria used to ensure the selected group broadly represents the general population; and (d) The method for inviting a randomly selected subset of the population to volunteer.

The first set of lots are drawn when randomly selected individuals are chosen to receive an invitation. Often the invitation is a letter sent by mail to several thousand randomly selected households. Whatever method is chosen for distributing invitations, it should give every community member roughly the same chance of being invited to volunteer. The invitation explains that the recipient is being asked to volunteer to perform a public service by representing their community. Those who volunteer are asked to provide basic demographic information. From amongst the pool of volunteers, lots are again drawn by randomly selecting individuals in such a way that the selected participants match the demographic profile of the general population.

We want to:

  • Provide experiences based advice

  • Document what works and what doesn’t

  • Document different models and approaches to recruitment and selection

  • Introduce Civic Lotteries to new sectors beyond government or public institutions

Things to watch for:

  • Provide practical guides:

    • How to run a Civic Lottery (available here)

    • New Editions of the Lottery Guide with forwards from academic, public leaders, and others about why the Lottery process should be used for:

      • Student Union Representation (to come)

      • Labour Union Representation (to come)

      • Civic Volunteer Secretariat (to come)

      • Employee Representation (to come)

  • Interviews with Practitioners

  • Interviews with Civic Lottery Participants

  • Civic Lottery Communications and Invitation Sample Library

  • Recruitment Trends

  • Workshops, Online Presentations, and more…

Civic Lottery Invitations Sent

Canada - MASS LBP

People Selected

Canada - MASS LBP