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by Matt Leighninger
In March 2012, Elliot Shuford of the Oregon Citizens’ Initiative Review participated in a colloquium on deliberative democracy organized by the Participatory Governance Initiative of Arizona State University. In this interview with Participatory Governance Initiative co-director Daniel Schugurensky, Elliot recounts the history of the “Citizens’ Initiative Review,” explains how it works, and shares some of the main lessons learned.
He argues that ballot measures are often complex issues that have significant financial and social implications for taxpayers. Given that the stakes are so high, campaigns and interest groups spend millions on campaign tactics like poll-tested messages and sound bytes to shape the debate to their advantage.
Their goal is to get votes, and their tactics are primarily meant to influence, not necessarily to inform. He notes that in order to exercise responsibly the right to participate in direct democracy, voters should have reliable and clear information about ballot measures.