Democracy Works: Winning The "Democracy Lottery"
It's not the Powerball or the Mega Millions, but this democracy lottery does give people the chance to directly impact information that appears on the ballot in their state. Like a lot of things we talk about on this show, the Citizens Initiative Review (CIR) is not easy, but as you'll hear from this week's guests, is work worth doing.
CIRs, which organizers call the "democracy lottery," bring together groups of voters in an intensive four-day, jury-like setting to research the basic facts of initiatives and referenda on the ballot. These citizen panels draft joint statements that provide clear, concise and accurate information to their fellow voters, removed from campaign messaging and financial influence. It's been implemented in Oregon, Arizona and California, and is currently in a pilot phase in Massachusetts. Our guests have been at the forefront of making this process happen.
Robin Teater is the executive director of Healthy Democracy, an organization that designs and coordinates innovative deliberative democracy programs. The organization helped implement the CIR process and remains committed to helping it expand across the United States.
John Gastil is a professor of communication arts and sciences and political science at Penn State and an expert on deliberative democracy. He's studied CIRs throughout the United States and Europe. His research gauges how effective CIRs are at making voters more informed, and how being part of a CIR impacts participants.