American West Briefing Tour: Citizens' Initiative Review clears up the smoke on ballot measures
By Al Ortiz
PORTLAND, Oregon: After a lunch break in our marathon day at Lewis & Clark, a panel took the stage that introduced the Citizens' Initiative Review, a process in evaluating ballot measures so Oregon voters can make informed decisions at the polls.
According to the group, this program allows state citizens to have access to "clear, useful, and trustworthy information at election time." The panel showed the room at the Gregg Pavilion a video that summed up the CIR's goal: To provide voters with an alternative to the "political spin at election time."
In a discussion revealing captivating and innovative aspects to the review process, it was discussed how a panel of 24 voter were brought together from around Oregon to evaluate a ballot measures on the 2010 ballot over five days. The review by the randomly-selected and demographically-balanced panel members heard from campaign advocates for and against that particular ballot measure, heard from policy gurus and discussed their findings as a group.
According to CIR Moderator Robin Gumpert, moderators would only check in periodically to see how progress was being made.
After deliberation by the panel, results and ballot measure evaluations were then published in the voters' pamphlets as a refreshing and alternative resource for state voters to use to stay informed around the election.
This 2010 panel was a trial run in order to prove to the state that the CIR was a legitimately run program that could work in the future. The hopes of the CIR came to fruition in June 2011, when the Oregon Legislature approved House Bill 2634, which solidified the Citizen's Initiative Review as a part of the state elections. The panel claimed that the Beaver State is the only state in the country to adopt the process into a law. 2012 will be the first year that the CIR is implemented.
After being called out by the Mayor of Portland for being from Texas (in which he stated, "Welcome to civilization"), I wasn't too sure if I'd be welcome here. All my concerns have vanished after our great welcome at Lewis & Clark College. Of course, I know the mayor's statement was in jest, as I laughed at his remarks as much as the table.
Of course, us rugged Texans know how to take a punch. I need to invite the mayor down to the Lone Star State after his term is up!
- Current City: Portland
- Next City: Salem (Salem)
What else to look for today
- Lunch: Discussion with the controversial Bill Sizemore in Salem.
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