By Susan Clark, originally published by Resilience.org
Citizens’ Initiative Review (CIR) gives an old system a much-needed update. The initiative and referendum system, used in two dozen American states and many cities, allows voters to create public policy through ballot measures. In Oregon, leaders were concerned that this direct democracy process, while allowing voters substantial power, was missing a key ingredient: deliberation. Sure, voters could talk with neighbors and do their own research, but there was no built-in forum for public give-and-take on ballot initiatives before voting. Well-funded, high-stakes campaigns often oversimplified or skewed the issues, and surveys showed that voters were frequently not well informed before they voted. . . .