2015 Top 10
Winners:
State of Oregon
2015
Publication:
Innovations in American Government Awards
Jurisdiction:
Oregon

After a 2010 pilot project, in 2011, the Oregon legislature created the Citizens’ Initiative Review Commission (CIRC) to make reviews of citizen ballot measures a permanent part of Oregon elections. The CIRC is comprised of citizen panelists, former moderators, and appointees from the governor and senate leadership. The CIRC selects measures for review and oversees the CIR program. For each CIR, a randomly selected and demographically balanced panel is selected to match the demographics of Oregon’s population with regard to party affiliation, voting frequency, age, gender, ethnicity, educational attainment, and geographic location. Twenty to 24 panelists meet for three to five days to review each ballot measure; to allow citizens from all walks of life to participate, they are compensated for their time and travel expenses. Trained moderators guide the panelists as they gather information, interview neutral policy experts, question pro and con advocates, and deliberate. At the conclusion of each review, panelists draft a “Citizens’ Statement” highlighting the most important findings about the measure and the most relevant arguments for and against its passage. Each statement is published in the Voters’ Guide as an easily accessible resource for voters to use at election time. Independent research in 2012 demonstrated that the reviews were unbiased, widely used, and that they helped voters learn more about the ballot measures than other parts of the Voters’ Guide.