CITIZEN STATEMENTS ON BALLOT PROPOSITIONS

CDP Resolution

WELCOME DELEGATE.

We're building support for the resolution presented on this page.  If you're willing to sponsor it and are a delegate for 2021-2023, please email your name and district to  wayne.liebman@gmail.com or use this google form: https://cutt.ly/Ballot-Resolution

Thank you!

 

The A B C of it

A. The resolution addresses the influence of special interest money on the initiative process in California, where a recent Public Policy Institute poll showed that 90% of Californians believe that the initiative process is controlled at least in part by special interests.

B. The resolution asks CDP to support including in the official CA state voter pamphlet brief, plain language ballot-proposition statements developed by a body of voter peers that provide balanced, objective information to voters.

C. A similar program developed in Oregon, the Citizens' Initiative Review (CIR), has successfully modeled this concept as a fair, democratic, and representative solution to problems with the ballot measure system. We can't stop deceptive ads because of First Amendment issues, but we can neutralize them.

The resolution mentions (without naming) the Citizen's Initiative Review (CIR) process in Oregon. It omits naming the CIR  because CIR is written into Oregon law, and CDP resolutions do not advocate for legislation, just the underlying principles. Below you'll find background on CIR, the text of the resolution, and some supplemental information that may answer your questions. Need to ask something? Please Email wayne.liebman@gmail.com.

 

up arrow
Play Video

Ten Questions Answered:

slant crowd full
Why is this better than the partisan statements already in the voter pamphlet?

Because those statements are written by partisans. Including partisans you don't agree with who use deceptive arguments and confusing language. Voters really want information they can trust, they want it to be concise, easy to understand, and they don't want it to be a rant. Peer statements fit the bill. Ten years of research has shown voters spend twice as much time reading citizens' statements than partisan statements, learn more from them, trust them more, and are more likely to vote as a result.

How does this differ from the League of Women Voters ballot measure summaries?

Voter's Edge, the League of Women Voters election guide, is an online tool. The information does not appear in the voter pamphlet. The CIR statements do. Moreover, the CIR statement process is public and transparent,  is independently evaluated for fairness, and its positive effects on voters has been studied and documented.

Do voters really read these statements?

Yes. The longer the program has been in effect, the more voters have engaged with it. And voters are twice as likely to read the CIR statements in the voter pamphlet as they are to read the partisan statements.

How do I know these panels are fair?

They're randomly selected, regular folks, from all walks of life across the state--a representative cross section. The selection is stratified  so the panel composition accurately matches the  whole state in age, gender, race and ethnicity, geographic distribution, voter frequency, educational attainment (a proxy for income), and political party. The panel is trained in how to evaluate information from both experts and partisans, and panel deliberation is facilitated by disinterested moderators to ensure that every panelist listens and is listened to.

These initiatives are really complicated. How can ordinary people hope to understand them?

It's been shown over and over that ordinary people, given real responsibility, act responsibly. They can understand complicated issues, and collectively make quick, smart, unbiased, non-partisan decisions, and generate new and unexpected ideas. The most important ingredient in good, collective decision making is diversity, not expertise.

Who picks the experts?

In Oregon they're picked by the commission which oversees the panels. But if we do this is California, the panels should be given a say in picking experts as well. The commission also decides, based on how controversial they are, which initiatives get a panel. And they pick the panel moderator -- the group that runs the panels. In Oregon this has been Healthy Democracy. There's a link to their website at the bottom of this web page.

Who picks the commission?

The Oregon law specifies the composition of the commission. One member is chosen by a Republican in the state legislature, one by a Democrat. There are four former panel moderators and four former panelists on the commission. It's a non-partisan body.

How many panels are there, and what do do they cost? Who pays?

There's a panel for every controversial proposition, controversial as determined by polling, or money spent, or high profile or impact on the state budget.

A panel of 20-24 costs about $120,000. If there were ten initiatives needing panels, it would cost $1.2 million for the election.

Who pays? We do. The state would allocate taxpayer funds.

Let's put that amount in perspective. In the 2020 election, partisans spent $785 million promoting their ballot propositions. Oh, and the annual California budget? $220 billion.

Is this already a bill in the California legislature?

No bill has been written yet. You're endorsing the principle, which will help get a bill. You're on the cutting edge.

The problem is money in politics. Why not focus on campaign finance reform?

We should focus on reform, such as dark money disclosure. But until a Constitutional Amendment is passed that declares money is not speech and corporations are not people with First Amendment rights, we can expect that legislation that limits  money in politics will invite legal challenges by entrenched, moneyed interests.

The Citizens' Initiative Review process provides a mechanism to combat malign advertising independent of campaign finance reforms. It wouldn't make the system perfect. But it would make it better.

Citizen Statements Resolution

If you support the resolution and are a delegate elected/appointed in 2021

Please use the link below and provide your name, district, and email on the Google form.

TWO WEBSITES FOR FURTHER DETAILS

To the right, Healthy Democracy, which conducts the Oregon Citizens' Initiative Review (CIR) process.

To the left, the CIR Research Project, which contains independent evaluation and review of every CIR panel.

Scroll to Top