From the Democracy Fund blog:
Local and statewide initiatives and referenda give citizens the opportunity to vote directly on legislation, but voters often lack the information they need to make informed choices. The State of Oregon has created a potential remedy for this situation, called the Citizens Initiative Review (CIR), which convenes a group of average citizens together to evaluate ballot measures and share their recommendations with the voting public.
Healthy Democracy, the innovative organization behind the CIR, is a grantee of the Democracy Fund. My colleagues and I recently completed an evaluation of the 2012 CIR process in order to understand its quality and impact. Last fall, the CIR Commission, which was established by the Governor in 2011, convened panels of 24 randomly-selected, demographically representative Oregon citizens to spend a full week examining two different ballot measures.
One initiative proposed reforming the corporate tax system and the other would have authorized the construction of private casinos in Oregon. At the end of their deliberations, each panel produced a one page CIR Citizens’ Statement that went into the official Voter’s Pamphlet that the state mailed to every registered Oregon voter. The panels’ judgments ultimately matched the election outcomes, with voters ending a corporate tax refund and declining to authorize private casinos.