Background

AT A GLANCE

The Citizens’ Initiative Review (CIR), adopted into Oregon Law in 2011, brings panels of Oregonians from across the state together to fairly evaluate ballot measures.

In 2014, 5,000 Oregonians will receive an invitation to participate in this process and from those who respond, two citizen panels of 24 voters will be selected to match the demographics of Oregon. Panelists will spend three and a half days together, hearing from subject matter experts as well as proponents and opponents of the measure in question. The results will be published in Oregon’s official Voters’ Guide.

To learn more about what makes the CIR trustworthy and fair or how panelists are selected, visit our frequently asked questions page.

If you have received an invitation to participate in a CIR or have questions about the selection process, don’t hesitate to email us or give us a call at 541-612-0247.

WHAT DO FORMER PANELISTS HAVE TO SAY ABOUT THEIR EXPERIENCE?

“Participating in the Citizens’ Initiative Review has been a unique and enriching experience for me. This opportunity to work side by side with fellow voters has affirmed my belief in the value of public participation in the democratic process. Over and over throughout the week we saw how putting many heads together helped us to come up with responses that were more thoughtful than any one individual could have generated. I hope this initiative review process eventually becomes the standard for voter-developed ballot measures.”

Check out an article about a panelist’s experience here.

THE CITIZENS’ INITIATIVE REVIEW IN OREGON

Oregon pioneered the ballot initiative system in 1902 to give citizens a new way to participate in making the laws they are governed by. After 112 years and major increases in the number of measures on the ballot and the amount of money campaigns spend on them, voters are searching for quality unbiased information to help them make good public decisions.

Our solution: The Citizens’ Initiative Review (CIR).

After a 2010 pilot project, in 2011 the Oregon legislature created the state Citizens’ Initiative Review Commission (CIRC) to make citizen ballot measure reviews a permanent part of Oregon elections.

The CIRC is made up of former panelists, former moderators, and appointees from the Governor and bipartisan Senate leadership. The CIRC selects measures for review and oversees the CIR program. The CIRC contracts with Healthy Democracy to run the reviews.

Each election year, two panels of 24 randomly selected and demographically balanced voters are brought together to hear arguments for and against a ballot measure and call upon subject-matter experts. This process is conducted using moderators who are trained to remain unbiased as they lead the group through information-gathering sessions and deliberation.

Designed to be fair and in-depth, the review process culminates with the production of a ‘Citizens’ Statement’ detailing the key findings of the CIR panel. The Citizens’ Statement is included in the statewide Voters’ Pamphlet that is mailed to every voter prior to the election.

A team led by nationally recognized researchers, backed by funding from the National Science Foundation and Kettering Institute, evaluated the 2010 pilot and 2012 reviews. They concluded that the CIR panels engage in high-quality deliberation, and that the CIR ‘Citizens’ Statements’ are widely used and helpful to a large percentage of voters.

THE OREGON CIR COMMISSION

During the 2011 Legislative Session, the Oregon Legislature passed House Bill 2634 which created a commission to oversee and conduct the Citizens’ Initiative Review (CIR) in Oregon. The CIR Commission is the official authority on how the CIR works, how it is administered, and what measures are selected for review. Oregon was the first state in the nation to adopt this innovative policy into law.

To learn more about the Oregon CIR Commission, please visit oregon.gov/CIRC.

ORIGINS OF THE CITIZENS’ INITIATIVE REVIEW

Between 1999 and 2007, Ned Crosby, founder of the Minnesota-based Jefferson Center, and his wife and colleague, Pat Benn, began developing and promoting the idea of the CIR. One of those early meetings inspired an email that made its way to Elliot Shuford and Tyrone Reitman, then graduate students in public policy at the University of Oregon. In 2006, Reitman and Shuford, with the support of Crosby and Benn, became the co-founders of Healthy Democracy Oregon.

Crosby’s pioneering work to develop the Citizens Jury method of public deliberation is the foundation of the CIR process. Recognized as an innovation in the field of citizen deliberation and public engagement, the Citizens Jury method has been used over the past 30 years in a wide variety of applications. To learn more about the history of the Citizens Jury process and the current work of the Jefferson Center, please visit jefferson-center.org.

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