Citizens’ Initiative Review processes bring randomly selected and representative panels of voters together to fairly and thoroughly evaluate ballot measures and give voters information they can trust.
In a Citizens’ Initiative Review(CIR) process, a group of 24 registered voters from around a state are invited to study an active ballot measure. They first undergo training in dialogue and deliberation techniques to prepare for deliberation on the policy issues raised by the measure.
Campaign advocates for and against the measure make their case and are questioned by the citizen panelists. Additionally, independent experts provide information and respond to request and questions from the panel. Throughout, the panelists deliberate on the information, the various policy tradeoffs, and the values underlying the policy choice.
At the end, using a combination of voting and consensus techniques, they produce a statement that contains key facts, the best reasons to vote for the measure, and the best reasons to vote against the measure. Their statement is distributed as widely as possible so that all of the state’s voters can read and consider the statement when they cast their ballot.
In Oregon, where the Citizens’ Initiative Review is an official part of state elections, the CIR statement is sent to every registered voter in the state as part of the official Voters’ Pamphlet!
CIR History By State:
STEP 1: Recruitment
10,000 registered voters around the state receive an invitation. From the voters who opt in, 20 to 24 voters are selected using a blind process. The pool is stratified to be representative of the demographic and political diversity of the state. These are the CIR panelists.
STEP 2: Training
At the start of a four day review, the panelists learn how to deliberate with one another and develop criteria for evaluating the reliability of information.
STEP 3: Testimony
Campaign advocates and independent experts provide testimony about the measure. Panelists ask questions to probe for information and understanding.
STEP 4: Deliberation
Throughout the process, panelists talk with one another in groups and pairs. They examine the policy tradeoffs, costs and benefits, and underlying values. Through this process, they educate one another and distinguish campaign spin from reliable facts.
STEP 5: The Statement
The final step is to write a Citizen’s Statement. This statement includes Key Findings about the measure, the best reasons to vote for it, and the best reasons to vote against it. The statement is then distributed as widely as possible so that all voters may benefit from the panel’s work.