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Current Location: Durham, North East England   

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rethink voting . . .
With turnout at Parish Town elections being so low; 

with many councils not contesting elections due to lack of additional candidates; 

with party politics being present;

with budgets restricting effectiveness, 

is there is another way?

Is voting the best way to ensure local representation?

What if we replace elections for Town and Parish Councils with a "call-up", issued randomly across the constituency, as per Jury Duty?

No one would vote; no one would stand - but everyone from the Electoral Register has a chance and duty to take the role of Councillor.

Assuming a Council has 12 members, four would be appointed every 3 months - replacing the four that had completed their 12 month service.

Party Politics and allegiances, if they appeared, would only last for 3, 6 or 9 months and not be fostered for years as they are under the current paradigm.

Just as with Jury Service, it is not something you can volunteer for; it is it something you can defer if you have grounds such as a 6 month holiday; and you can turn down if you are moving out of the community within the next 12 months.


People have a right to say how their community is run.

They can do that by Participatory Democracy. 

For those who would never stand for election, this gives them an equal chance to serve on the Council

We can't just have anyone being a councillor - there are some idiots out there and people with despicable views.

Indeed there may be, but we allow such idiots and bigots to serve on juries where the consequences of their views and actions have far greater consequence for the innocent people brought before the criminal justice system.

The majority of people called up would not be able to serve due to work or family commitments.

That may be true in the current arrangements, but those arrangements are arrived at by the people who serve on the Council; and the people who currently stand for Council do so on the understanding of how Council business is arranged. 

However, if we were to imagine a Council made up of over half being of working age, then the arrangement would quickly changed to suit the membership.

It may be that the Council meets less frequently, but communicates more informally; It may be that meeting are help more frequently but are much shorter; It may be that subject areas are devolved to small groups who can meet and communicate on their own terms.

If Council meet less then how will they have time to carry out their duties?

There is another much bigger change to the way Councils may run themselves it they are formed from a randomised group of people, with little time available, each one of whom only serves one year:  i.e what they are there to "do".  Why do they have to "do" anything?  

By way of example, let us look at Allotments. Many Town and Parish Councils own, or at least manage, Allotments; indeed for many, Allotments represent their biggest asset and take up significant time of the Clerk.

Bu why does the Council have to run them? If someone wants to run the Allotments, why do they have to be a Councillor? It is feasible that not one of the 12 Councillors have any interest in or knowledge of Allotments, but the best person for the job has no interest in standing for election. If the Allotments are running smoothly, why should the Council bother itself with them? Why should Allotments play a bigger role in a Community Representative's thoughts than Young People Services, Dog Fouling, the High Street, Sex Education etc?






Drawing from in-depth interviews, thousands of juror surveys, and court and voting records from across the United States, the authors show that serving on a jury can trigger changes in how citizens view themselves, their peers, and their government--and can even significantly increase electoral turnout among infrequent voters. Jury service also sparks long-term shifts in media use, political action, and community involvement.

The Jury and Democracy
How Jury Deliberation Promotes Civic Engagement and Political Participation 
John Gastil, E. Pierre Deess, Philip J. Weiser and Cindy Simmons 
Buy This Book

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-  Is voting the best way to ensure local representation?

-  Would it help assimilation if we learned lessons from immigrant communities?


I don't know if these are stupid or brilliant questions (probably neither) but would love to discuss them with those that want to - and to include more questions from you.




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