In July and August 2020, 36 voters from across Oregon worked together to develop recommendations for a fair and equitable path forward beyond the coronavirus pandemic.

Key Project Details

  • This Citizen Assembly pilot is a partnership between Healthy Democracy and Oregon’s Kitchen Table, a program of the National Policy Consensus Center at Portland State University.
  • The Assembly’s citizen panel is composed of 36 Oregonians from all walks of life. Panelists were randomly selected from among Oregon voters.
  • The citizen panel reflects a microcosm of the state – in terms of age, gender, location of residence, race & ethnicity, political party, educational attainment, and level of political engagement.
  • The Assembly is deliberating online in small groups each with its own professional facilitator, using processes drawn from Healthy Democracy’s 12 years of experience running Citizens’ Initiative Reviews.
  • The panel has been meeting for two hours/week for seven weeks on Thursdays from 6–8PM, starting on July 9 and will conclude on Aug. 20,
  • All full-group sessions of the panel are open to public observers via live stream, which are also being recorded and available for view on Healthy Democracy’s You Tube channel. All small-group sessions are closed to public observers to respect panelist privacy.
  • Because third-party evaluation is a core feature of all our programs, all sessions of the Assembly – including small-group sessions – are being observed and evaluated by independent academic researchers from institutions across the country.
  • Panelists without internet access or a laptop have been accommodated by being shipped loaner laptops and provided with one-on-one technical support.
  • Panelists will be compensated for their time, with a stipend of $700 for 14 hours of service.
  • The Assembly’s recommendations will be released on August 27 at a public press conference streamed on You Tube.

Highlights of Assembly Deliberations

  •  The Assembly chose a question submitted among many questions by several state senators. The question selected was:  “What do you see as relationships between pandemic and inequalities in social/economic structures – what has been learned about that? With increased interest in racial justice – how important is that? How much do we need change now? When pandemic is done, how important is it to pursue changes in basic systems?” This question was submitted to the Assembly by Senator Jeff Golden, who was invited to clarify and expand on his question at the Assembly’s 3rd session.
  • Panelists heard from subject matter experts from the State economist (Oregon Office of Economic Analysis) and from the Oregon Department of Education after narrowing their issue focus in Sessions 3 and 4.
  •  Panelists crafted survey questions and received feedback from members of the general public (Oregon Kitchen Table survey link)
  • Panelists heard from Senator Arnie Roblan (D-Coos Bay; Co-Chair, Joint Special Committee on Coronavirus Response) about the Special Session scheduled for August 10 and what issues will be weighed during the session and into the future (Livestream Session 5)

Key Events

  • Panelist Selection Event: June 10, 2020
    • Location: Online.
    • This was a brief public event, where the first half of the Assembly panel was randomly selected from among the responses we received.
    • A recording of the live stream is available below.
  • Citizen Assembly: July–August, 2020
    • Location: Online.
    • Time: Thursday, 6–8PM, July 9–Aug. 20.
    • Please visit our YouTube page to watch the sessions live or to view a recording afterward.
    • Note: All full-group portions of the Citizen Assembly’s sessions will be open to public observers via live stream. However, small-group sessions will not be open to the public, to protect panelist privacy. Consult the Daily Schedule posted below to determine when the Assembly will be present in its full-group (and therefore live streamed) format.
  • Citizen Assembly Special Session – Presentation of Recommendations: August 27, 2020
    • Location: Online.
    • Time: 6–6:30PM, August 27, 2020
    • Again, please visit our YouTube page to the presentation live or view a recording.
    • Members of the Assembly will present its recommendations to the public.

Daily Schedules


In the interest of transparency, we live stream and record as much of our processes as possible – without compromising the privacy of Citizen Panelists or the quality of the Panel’s deliberations. The YouTube playlist includes all parts of the process that were live streamed and recorded, from the Panelist Selection Event, through each session of the Assembly itself, to the final Press Conference where the Assembly announced its results.

Panelists who did not wish to appear on the live stream were given the option to turn off their videos each time before we went live. When the Panel worked in small groups, this was never live streamed, as it could jeopardize the candid discussions that happen in those settings.

Press Releases

Selection Process


For this pilot project, we are testing two different selection methods: mail and phone.

  • Half the panel was selected by mail, from respondents to a postcard sent to over 700 everyday Oregonians.
  • The other half is currently being selected by phone, with calls to randomly selected Oregon voters.

Selection by Mail

  • Typically, we select all panelists by mailing, sending a letter or postcard to 10,000 random names from the state’s voter’s list. This time – due to constrained costs of this pilot project and wanting to try the new phone selection method below – we only sent a postcard to 700-800 Oregon households who have responded to our mailings for previous events in years past. So, panelists will still be everyday voters from across the state of Oregon; they’re just folks who have previously replied to our invitations.
  • A postcard was sent in mid-May, with an RSVP deadline of Monday, June 8 at 11:59PM.
  • A Panelist Selection Event took place via live stream on June 10, where 20 panelists were randomly chosen.
  • To select panelists in a way that is both randomized and reflective of Oregon’s demographics, we use open-source stratified selection software developed by a UK-based nonprofit called the Sortition Foundation

Selection by Phone

  • Starting on June 15, an outside firm called Consumer Opinion Services will conduct random phone surveys of registered voters in Oregon, to select the second half of the panel.
  • COS begins with the state voter list, matching names from that list (which does not contain phone numbers) with other databases (which do).


Oregon’s Kitchen Table is a program of the College of Urban and Public Affairs at Portland State University and is housed within the National Policy Consensus Center. OKT brings everyday Oregonians together to weigh in on important policy questions.