An Oregon non-profit yesterday sent out surveys to 10,000 randomly selected voters in hopes that they will agree to serve on Citizens' Initiative Review Panels. Panelists will be selected from among the qualified voters who return their surveys.
This pilot project in Oregon sponsored by the group Healthy Democracy Oregon will take a novel approach to providing voters with information on initiatives. Up to three initiatives will undergo reviews by diverse panels of 24 randomly-selected Oregon citizens. Each panel will hold public hearings for five days, hearing testimony for initiative sponsors and opponents, as well as policy experts on the issues at hand. The panels will then draft a "Citizens Statement" on each initiative, which will be included in the state's official voters' pamphlet. Archives of the panels' public hearings and related materials will also be publicly available online.
This year's pilot project was approved and funded by the legislature in 2009. In 2008, Healthy Democracy Oregon conducted their own independent demonstration project, reviewing Measure 58 on the November 2008 ballot. This video provides an overview of the project's goals and a review of the 2008 project.
This is a project worth keeping an eye on. It has the potential to provide a new, unbiased source of information on initiatives.