Citizens Initiative Review

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= a Citizens Jury that deliberates about a ballot initiative. In a CIR, organizers select a panel, made up of a random sample of 18-24 citizens, who are demographically representative of the population.


Definition

Participedia:

"A Citizens’ Initiative Review (CIR) is a Citizens’ Jury that deliberates about a ballot initiative. In a CIR, organizers select a panel, made up of a random sample of 18-24 citizens, who are demographically representative of the population. The panelists meet for five days to learn and deliberate about a ballot initiative—a proposed law or constitutional amendment that is drafted by, and can be enacted by a direct vote of, citizens—that will be voted on in an upcoming election.

During the CIR, the panelists hear arguments from advocates and stakeholders supporting and opposing the initiative, as well as neutral background witnesses’ presentations about issues related to the initiative. Panelists have opportunities to question the advocates, stakeholders, and background witnesses. Then the panelists deliberate to identify important facts about the initiative, to decide whether to support or oppose the initiative, and to identify reasons to justify their support or opposition. The panelists’ deliberations are structured and led by a moderator, who ensures that each panelist’s voice and opinion are heard and considered.

At the end of the CIR, the panelists write a Citizens’ Statement that sets out the facts about the initiative that they agree on, the number of panelists supporting and opposing the initiative, and the panelists’ reasons for supporting and opposing the initiative. The Citizens’ Statement is then made available to the public and the media. In some jurisdictions, such as the U.S. state of Oregon, the Citizens’ Statement is included in the official voters’ guide, a booklet, published by the government, that gives citizens information about candidates and ballot measures to be voted on in an election. A CIR thus lets voters hear from well-informed citizens who help voters make the best choice regarding an initiative." (http://participedia.net/methods/citizens-initiative-review)

Discussion

Problems and Purpose

"The key problem the CIR seeks to address is that voters often receive inadequate information about ballot initiatives. Surveys show that many voters are unaware of ballot initiatives before election day. In addition, surveys show that many voters have inaccurate knowledge of ballot initiatives and few voters can express reasons to support or oppose particular ballot initiatives. Further, long-term public policy problems arising from ballot initiatives and the high rate at which ballot initiatives are struck down by courts indicate that many voters lack sufficient information about the policy consequences and the legality of ballot initiatives. The purpose of the CIR is to remedy these problems by improving the quality of information voters receive about ballot initiatives." (http://participedia.net/methods/citizens-initiative-review)

History

In 1999 in the U.S. state of Washington Michael Lowry, former governor of the state, proposed applying the Citizens’ Jury process to Washington State ballot initiatives; this new process was called Citizens’ Initiative Review.

From 1999-2007, Ned Crosby, founder of the Jefferson Center, which developed the Citizens’ Jury, and his wife Patricia Benn developed and promoted the CIR process in Washington State, but the CIR was not incorporated into Washington State’s official initiative process.

In 2000 John Gastil, in his book By Popular Demand: Revitalizing Representative Democracy Through Deliberative Elections, recommended that the Citizens’ Jury be applied to initiatives and referenda.

As early as 2002 a Website for the Washington Citizens' Initiative Review was established at the URL: cirwa.org. (For archived versions of that Website, click here).

In 2003 Gastil and Crosby wrote an op-ed article reporting survey results showing that Washington State citizens had little knowledge of the initiatives on the 2003 Washington State ballot, and citing these results as evidence of the need for a CIR.

According to Tyrone Reitman, Crosby and Benn also advocated for the CIR in the U.S. state of Oregon in 2003.

In 2005 Crosby and others founded a nonprofit organization called Promoting Healthy Democracy (PHD), which began supporting CIR projects in 2009.

In 2006, Tyrone Reitman and Elliot Shuford organized a project to introduce the CIR in the U.S. state of Oregon. Crosby and Benn agreed to fund the project. In early 2007 Reitman and Shuford founded Healthy Democracy Oregon (HDO), an organization that would carry out the project, which was called the Oregon Citizens’ Initiative Review (Oregon CIR). After a successful trial in 2008 the Oregon Legislature authorized the Oregon CIR for the 2010 election. In 2010 two Oregon CIRs were held and produced two Citizens’ Statements, which were included in the official 2010 Oregon voters’ guide. In 2011 the Oregon Legislature passed a law making Oregon CIR a permanent part of Oregon’s statewide initiative process.

In 2011 HDO created a new, related organization, Healthy Democracy Fund (HDF). HDF’s activities include raising funds to sustain the Oregon CIR, further developing the CIR process, and applying the CIR method to public policy issues in legislatures in a process called Citizens’ Policy Review." (http://participedia.net/methods/citizens-initiative-review)

Deliberation, Decisions, and Public Interaction

Once the CIR organizers have chosen the panel, advocates, stakeholders, and background witnesses, the organizers gather the panel and explain the panel’s charge. The panel’s charge is to write a Citizens’ Statement explaining key facts about the initiative that a majority of the panel agrees about, stating how many panelists support or oppose the initiative, and setting out the reasons that the panelists support or oppose the initiative. The charge acts as a guideline for the panel, the advocates, the stakeholders, and the background witnesses.

On the first day of the CIR the panelists learn about the CIR procedures, practice deliberating according to the CIR procedures while using a hypothetical initiative, receive a brief overview of the actual initiative that will be the subject of their deliberations, and get to know each other. The next three days are dedicated to hearings at which advocates, stakeholders, and background witnesses present arguments and information to the panel. There is time allotted for the panelists to ask question of the advocates, stakeholders, and background witnesses, and also time for the panelists to deliberate. Trained moderators organize the questioning and deliberations to ensure that all advocates, stakeholders, and background witnesses are treated fairly and that all panelists have the opportunity to be heard.

After the hearings have been completed the panelists engage in final deliberations about the initiative. These deliberations are also moderated. During these deliberations the panelists decide on key facts about the initiative that a majority of panelists agree on, determine whether they support or oppose the initiative, and choose the best arguments supporting or opposing the initiative. Once these decisions have been made the panelists write a Citizens’ Statement that sets out those key facts, the number of panelists supporting or opposing the initiative, and their reasons for supporting or opposing the initiative.

On the final day of the CIR there is a public event at which the panelists present their Citizens’ Statement. In some jurisdictions the Citizens’ Statement is included in the official voters’ guide that explains ballot initiatives to voters.

An important part of the CIR process is the panelists’ evaluation of the CIR process. The panelists are asked to evaluate the process itself and the CIR personnel who moderate and organize the CIR. The panelists use several criteria to evaluate the CIR including the quality of the deliberations and any bias in the process or exhibited by CIR personnel. As part of the evaluation each panelist may write a personal statement in which he or she may express views that were not included in the Citizens’ Statement.

Some time after the CIR has concluded the CIR organizers publish a final report about the CIR. The final report includes the Citizens’ Statement, the panelists’ evaluations of the CIR, and descriptions of the CIR process." (http://participedia.net/methods/citizens-initiative-review)

References

Secondary Sources

Binder, M., Boudreau, C., & Kousser, T. (2011). Shortcuts to deliberation? How cues reshape the role of information in direct democracy voting. California Western Law Review, 48, 97-128.

Citizens' Initiative Review. (2002). History of the project. http://web.archive.org/web/20021012090756/http://www.cirwa.org/historycir.php

Ned Crosby and John C. Hottinger. (2011). The Citizens Jury Process. Book of the States, 2011, pp. 321-325, http://knowledgecenter.csg.org/drupal/system/files/Crosby2011.pdf

John Gastil. (2000). By Popular Demand: Revitalizing Representative Democracy through Deliberative Elections. Berkeley: University of California Press.

John Gastil and Ned Crosby. (2003, November 5). Voters Need More Reliable Information. seattlepi.com, http://www.seattlepi.com/local/opinion/article/Voters-need-more-reliable-information-1128957.php

John Gastil and Katherine Knobloch. (2010). Evaluation Report to the Oregon State Legislature on the 2010 Oregon Citizens’ Initiative Review. http://www.la1.psu.edu/cas/jgastil/CIR/OregonLegislativeReportCIR.pdf

John Gastil, Katherine Knobloch, Justin Reedy, Mark Henkels, and Katherine Cramer Walsh. (2011). Hearing a Public Voice in Micro-Level Deliberation and Macro-Level Politics: Assessing the Impact of the Citizens’ Initiative Review on the Oregon Electorate. Paper Presented at NCA 2011: Annual Conference of the National Communication Association, held November 17-20, 2011, New Orleans, Louisiana.

John Gastil, Katherine Knobloch, and Robert Richards. (2012). Vicarious Deliberation: How the Oregon Citizens’ Initiative Review Influences Deliberation in Mass Elections. Paper Presented at RSA 2012: The 15th Biennial Conference of the Rhetoric Society of America, May 23-28, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

John Gastil and Robert Richards. (2012). Making Direct Democracy Deliberative through Random Assemblies, Paper to Be Presented at ASA 2012: The Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association, August 17-20, 2012, Denver, Colorado.

Katherine Knobloch, John Gastil, Justin Reedy, and Katherine Cramer Walsh. (2011). Did They Deliberate? Applying a Theoretical Model of Democratic Deliberation to the Oregon Citizens’ Initiative Review. Paper Presented at NCA 2011: Annual Conference of the National Communication Association, held November 17-20, 2011, New Orleans, Louisiana.

Katherine Knobloch and Rory Raabe. (2011). Exploring the Effects of Deliberative Participation through Panelist Self-Reports. Paper Presented at NCA 2011: Annual Conference of the National Communication Association, held November 17-20, 2011, New Orleans, Louisiana.

DeAnna Martin. (2010, April 20). Citizen Initiative Review to Educate Oregonians on Ballot Measures. Social Capital Review. http://socialcapitalreview.org/citizen-initiative-review-to-educate-oreg...


External Links

Citizens' Initiative Review Website (archived versions), http://wayback.archive.org/web/20020515000000*/http://www.cirwa.org

Healthy Democracy Fund, Programs and Projects, http://healthydemocracyfund.org/programs-projects/

Healthy Democracy Oregon. (2010). Citizens’ Initiative Review 2010, Measure 73, Interim Final Report. Portland, OR: Healthy Democracy Oregon. http://cirarchive.org/media/attachments/documents/M73_Final_Report.pdf

Healthy Democracy Oregon. (2010). Citizens’ Initiative Review 2010, Measure 74, Interim Final Report. Portland, OR: Healthy Democracy Oregon. http://cirarchive.org/media/attachments/documents/M74_Final_Report.pdf

Healthy Democracy Oregon, Citizens’ Initiative Review, http://healthydemocracyoregon.org/citizens-initiative-review

Oregon Citizens' Initiative Review, 2010, Archive Website, http://cirarchive.org/

Oregon Citizens' Initiative Review, 2010, Measure 73. (2010). Citizens' Initiative Review of Measure 73. Salem, OR: Oregon Secretary of State. http://cirarchive.org/media/attachments/documents/statements/M73_Citizens_Statement.pdf

Oregon Citizens' Initiative Review, 2010, Measure 74. (2010). Citizens' Initiative Review of Measure 74. Salem, OR: Oregon Secretary of State. http://cirarchive.org/media/attachments/documents/statements/M74_Citizens_Statement.pdf

Oregon Laws, 2011, Chapter 365, http://www.leg.state.or.us/11orlaws/sess0300.dir/0365.html

Oregon Secretary of State. (2010). Voters’ Pamphlet, Oregon General Election, November, 2, 2010, http://oregonvotes.org/doc/history/nov22010/guide/book13.pdf

Promoting Healthy Democracy, http://promotinghealthydemocracy.org/