Bring a Citizens’ Initiative Review to You

Planning a Citizens' Initiative Review

Healthy Democracy seeks local project partners who can provide on-the-ground project management and link in to official elections channels. Ideal partner organizations have the capacity to raise or access project funds, provide a nonpartisan “home” for the Citizens Initiative Review (CIR), provide high quality staffing as the local project manager, and leverage relationships to recruit campaign advocates and independent experts to testify at CIR proceedings. For pilot projects in new jurisdictions, Healthy Democracy and local project partner(s) enter into a Memorandum of Understanding that details the responsibilities of each partner.

Healthy Democracy provides:

  • Citizens Initiative Review Process Manuals 
  • 2-day training
  • Experienced Lead Moderators 
  • Onsite process quality monitoring 
  • Coordination with independent academic research teams, as needed
  • Consultation support for project management, panelist recruitment, advocate and expert recruitment and communication, and advisory committee management.
  • CIR sample materials and Partner Podcasts
  • Coming in late 2018: CIR Content Manager, a self-contained app designed to make managing CIR information simpler and easier for your Information Coordinator

Partners provide:

  • A local "home" for the Citizens' Initiative Review
  • Project funding
  • Project management staffing 
  • Campaign advocate recruitment and independent expert recruitment
  • Panelist recruitment and management 
  • Advisory committee staffing 
  • Logistics Management 
  • Assistant Moderators 
  • Information Coordinator
  • Local legitimacy

Planning for a Citizens' Initiative Review event, beginning with drafting and signing a Memorandum of Understanding, should begin approximately 5-6 months before the Citizens' Statement publication date. Start 2 to 3 months earlier if you need to raise funds to cover the costs of the project. For November elections, Citizens' Initiative Reviews are typically held in the month of August.

Partner Materials

Working with us to run a Citizens' Initiative Review means you have access to our expertise and materials, which we've developed in the course of running over a dozen Citizens' Initiative Reviews. Partner Materials include:

  • CIR Process Manuals
  • CIR Planning Documents, including planning timelines, staffing descriptions, best practices, protocols, and sample correspondence.
  • CIR "Partner Podcasts" that give you an inside look into some of the tricker parts of planning a Citizens' Initiative Review.
  • Sample budgets
  • CIR Key Quality Elements
  • And more!

How to Get Started

Partner materials are available to governments seeking to implement the CIR, upon request. Please contact us to request access to the materials.

Practitioners, NGOs, and other folks, we ask that if you are interested in bringing the CIR to your jurisdiction that you team up with someone in government. They can request access to the materials. This ensures our ability to make sure that entities sponsoring a CIR and having access to the materials have the authority to conduct an official process.

If you are interested in translating or adapting the Citizens' Initiative Review, please get in touch!

Partner FAQ's

What is a Citizens' Initiative Review?

Ballot measures drive major policy decisions in both state and local governments, yet surveys have shown that 75% of voters say they often find initiatives too complicated or confusing to understand. Accurate and unbiased information is not only difficult to come by, it is often obscured by misleading statements and advertisements by both sides of an issue. The 4-day Citizens Initiative Review process empowers a representative panel of voters to learn about a ballot measure from advocates and independent experts, deliberate with one another to assess the strength and reliability of information, and produce a concise and readable statement for their fellow voters. They don't take sides. Instead, they present the best possible information on both sides of the measure and let voters make up their own minds.

How are measures selected for review?

Any citizen-initiated ballot measure (also known as ballot propositions or ballot questions) can be reviewed using the Citizens Initiative Review process. An independent body such as a commission or an advisory committee selects the measure(s) that will be reviewed using a set of criteria. Typically, they consider the potential fiscal impact of a measure, the complexity of the proposed law and/or potential for voter confusion, and whether the measure would change the constitution.

How are the citizen panelists selected?

A random sample of registered voters (typically 10,000) receives a letter in the mail explaining the Citizens Initiative Review and inviting them to apply to participate and verify that they can review the selected measure objectively. Of the applications returned, project organizers conduct an open and transparent process to select a panel that reflects voter demographics according to official census and elections data. The resulting panel reflects the population of the state, county, or city in terms of age, geography, political perspective, gender, race, ethnicity, and educational attainment.

Who is in the room during a Citizens Initiative Review?

During the 4-day Citizens Initiative Review, the citizen panelists take center stage. They are guided through the process by professional neutral moderators - specially trained in the Citizens Initiative Review process - and are supported by an Information Coordinator and a Process Quality Monitor. Campaign advocates for and against the measure testify to the panel, and independent experts answer citizen panelist questions. Members of the media and general public are welcome to observe and an academic research team conducts daily evaluations to ensure the process is fair, unbiased, and democratic.

How much does it cost?

A full Citizens Initiative Review, including venue, food, transportation, panelist stipends, lodging, materials, and staff time can range from $65,000 - $125,000 per measure. Factors impacting the cost include local venue and lodging rates, local staffing resources, and panelist transportation distance. Additional funding, if available, can be used to increase public awareness of the Citizens' Statement and the CIR process.