Investigating the Electoral Impact and Deliberation of the Oregon Citizens' Initiative Review

Project: Research project

Project Details


In June 2009 Oregon's governor signed into law a bill to create Citizens' Initiative Review (CIR) panels for the 2010 statewide general election. Two-to-three times in the summer of 2010, a stratified random sample of 18-24 Oregon citizens will deliberate on an initiative for 5 days, then prepare a one-page statement that goes into the official Voters' Pamphlet distributed to each registered voter by the Oregon Secretary of State. This research is the first opportunity to assess the impact of a small deliberative group (i.e., the CIR panels) on a large-scale electoral process. In doing so, this project will address two questions.

First, the research assesses whether the CIR process maintains its design integrity and leads its citizen panelists to engage in high-quality deliberation that yields a well-informed and reasoned Pamphlet statement. To address this question, the project's research team assesses the CIR itself: its overall design and the soundness of its deliberation and judgments. This involves creating and analyzing transcripts of the CIR panel meetings, as well as archival records of the CIR planning process.

Second, the investigators explore whether the CIR's statement in the Voters' Pamphlet has a substantial electoral impact: whether it changes how people choose to vote and the reasons they give for the voting choices they make. The bulk of this project's budget will measure electoral impact through a panel survey of likely Oregon voters, with the first wave occurring before the first CIR panel convenes and the second coming at the end of the election. The design and content of the survey will make it possible to discern the degree to which Oregon voters read or otherwise learned about the CIR statements in the Voters' Pamphlet and whether those statements influenced their vote directly or by shaping their perceptions of relevant pro-and-con arguments or factual disputes.

This research will help practitioners improve the ballot initiative process.

Effective start/end date7/1/106/30/11


  • National Science Foundation: $218,479.00


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