With all the angst about the electoral college in America, here's an interesting tidbit on how medieval Venice chose its doge. Not sortition but I'm loving how convoluted and random it is:
First, thirty members of the Great Council were chosen at random. Then nine of those thirty were chosen, again randomly. Those nine members picked the next set: forty people from the Great Council. And those forty? Twelve, randomly picked from their number, moved on to the next step. Those twelve chose twenty-five; those twenty-five were randomly pared down to just nine. Having fun yet?
This set of nine members chose forty-five more; eleven were picked – again at random – from those forty-five. The eleven chose forty-one members. Those forty-one (finally!) voted for the doge.