From ancient Athens to the town hall: Can a new wave of deliberative democracy save the world?

From Salon:

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What’s a good regional example?

At the regional/state level, it is worth highlighting the impact of the Citizens’ Initiative Review (CIR) model, which has been institutionalized in Oregon — and is now required before a ballot measure — and has been piloted in numerous other states, as well as in Finland and Switzerland. For a CIR, 24 randomly selected voters from across the state are invited to explore the for and against arguments of a ballot measure. After training in dialogue and deliberation techniques, they question campaign advocates on both sides as well as independent experts. After deliberating on the information, exploring the various trade-offs and the values underlying the choices, they produce a factual statement with the best reasons to vote for and to vote against the measure. In Oregon, it is distributed to registered voters when they receive their ballot, and in other places it is distributed as well as widely as possible to help inform voters.

The output of this process is therefore directly targeted at fellow citizens, rather than public decision-makers. But it still combines the same principles of representativeness and deliberation, and participants are given the time and resources to get to an informed public judgment at the end of it. 

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