Healthy Democracy Oregon Honored with October Lilburne Award
LAKE RIDGE, Virginia: Today, Citizens in Charge Foundation, a transpartisan national voter rights group focused on the ballot initiative and referendum process, presented Healthy Democracy Oregon with the October 2009 John Lilburne Award. The group is being recognized for promoting a more open and accessible initiative and referendum process in Oregon by championing legislation to establish the Citizens’ Initiative Review.
The Citizens’ Initiative Review brings together randomly selected voters – a citizen jury – to hear arguments from both opponents and proponents of a given ballot initiative as well as gathering information from policy experts and concerned citizens. The citizen panel will then draft a “Citizen Statement” to be placed alongside the official explanatory statement for each ballot measure in the state’s voter pamphlet, which is sent to each registered voter.
“Bringing more voices into the ballot initiative process is always a good thing,” said Paul Jacob, president of Citizens in Charge Foundation. “The Citizens’ Initiative Review is also cutting edge in seeking greater involvement of the average citizen through randomly selecting participants, similar to the way juries are chosen.”
Healthy Democracy Oregon was founded in 2007 by Tyron Reitman and Elliot Shuford who knew each other from the Public Policy Master’s Program at the University of Oregon. They formed the group to improve the initiative process in Oregon by providing more information to voters. Their idea for the Citizen’s Initiative Review came as part of their graduate studies on contemporary democratic processes.
“Most states do not send voters information on ballot measures in an official state pamphlet,” added Jacob. “Whether through legislation or just through concerned citizens putting such information online, we hope voters will have more information about the issues on their ballots.”
Each month, Citizens in Charge Foundation presents the John Lilburne Award to a citizen, or citizens, working to protect and defend the First Amendment petition rights of Americans. John Lilburne was a 17th Century English pamphleteer, political activist, and champion of individual rights who advocated constitutional government and pioneered the use of petitioning and referenda for redress against government power and abuse.