Understanding the Citizens Initiative Review
Thursday March 13, 2014 General Meeting:
Representatives from Healthy Democracy Manju Bazzell and Judy Vovre will be explaining how the Citizens Initiative Review process works. Jackson County has been chosen as the first county in Oregon to undergo the review before the May 20 election. The Citizens Initiative Review Board was created by a law passed in 2012 by the Oregon Legislature. Panels are established in the county which explain and examine the arguments related to the ballot measures.
CITIZENS’ INITIATIVE REVIEW BOARD —
An Exciting and Innovative Process in Participatory Democracy In 1902, a group of citizens fed up with politics as usual developed the initiative and referendum process to allow citizens to create laws directly at the ballot box. Fast-forward 111 years, and the system is showing some signs of strain.
Consider these results, taken from recent polls:
75% of voters support the initiative system, but 75% of voters say they often find the measures too complicated and confusing to understand, and 66% have cast ballots on measures with which they are unfamiliar.
Jackson County has been chosen by Healthy Democracy to participate in a review of a local ballot measure using the Citizens’ Initiative Review process. The Citizens’ Initiative Review (CIR) is one answer to the strain on our initiative system and to the need for more and better information. Created by Healthy Democracy, a non-partisan non-profit organization dedicated to elevating the public’s voice in our democracy; the Citizens’ Initiative Review (CIR) engages citizens to help their fellow voters make policy decisions..
HOW IT WORKS
For each measure of the ballot a panel of 24 randomly selected and demographically diverse voters is assembled Over a 3-day period, the panel hears directly from campaigns for and against the measure and calls upon policy experts.
Upon deliberation of presented information, the panel drafts a Citizens’ Statement highlighting the most important findings. The statement is published in the Oregon voters’ pamphlet.
The result: a completely fair, unbiased, independent hearing by citizens of the relevant information on the ballot measure.
- During the 2011 Legislative Session, the Oregon Legislature passed House Bill 2634 which created a commission to oversee and conduct the Citizens’ Initiative Review (CIR) in Oregon.
- In 2012, over 627,000 Oregonians relied on the Citizens’ Initiative Review (CIR) statement published in the voters’ pamphlet for trustworthy information on two statewide ballot measures.
- The Citizen’s Initiative Review is funded solely by charitable contributions.
- The CIR has attracted media attention from around Oregon and beyond for its work in providing voters with fair and balanced information on ballot measures.
- In 2012,the CIR won the International Association for Public Participation’s North American Project of the Year award and also went on to win their International Project of the Year Award.
One of the three Jackson County Ballot measures will be chosen for review. There is a strong possibility the League of Women Voters will be the first to know which ballot measure has been selected. If this has peaked your interest or passion about citizen-led democracy, please attend the March 13th meeting and be in the front row seat of this exciting movement. Learn more by visiting healthydemocracy.org and view a video about the process.
Additionally, League member Mary Lou Schnoes will provide a brief get-out-the-vote presentation , which will take place at some of the County libraries and staffed by LWVRV members.