Research report on 2016 Arizona CIR pilot released
The research team that evaluated the 2016 cycle of the Citizens’ Initiative Review has completed its third and final report. Previous reports analyzed the CIR in Oregon and Massachusetts, and this third one looks at the Arizona pilot CIR on Proposition 205, the “Arizona Marijuana Legalization” proposition, which proposed “legalizing the possession and consumption of marijuana by persons who are 21 years of age or older.”
The following are key findings from the report, as presented in the report’s brief summary page.
1. The 2016 Arizona CIR panel achieved a high quality of deliberation, which enabled panelists to understand and consider the key arguments for and against Proposition 205.
- The 2016 Arizona CIR panel maintained the same high level of deliberation obtained in previous years in Oregon and elsewhere, with only a couple of minor exceptions.
- The vast majority of participants reported learning enough about the measure, and most reported little difficulty processing information, arguments, and underlying values related to Proposition 205.
- CIR panelists and neutral observers largely agreed in their assessment that the CIR was conducted in a democratic fashion. SEE SECTION 1
2. The 2016 Arizona CIR produced a clear and reliable Citizens’ Statement.
- Claims made in the 2016 Citizens’ Statement generally were accurate and verifiable, though some elements reflected some vague claims and communicated uncertainty when panelists might have been able to provide more detailed and definitive statements.
- The 2016 Citizens’ Statement also included some statements of uncertainty added by the CIR organizers after the panelists completed their work, which is not ideal from a deliberative process standpoint.
- The 2016 Citizens’ Statement was clearly written in broadly accessible language, but the Statement had some minor issues with awkward wording. In addition, the Statement contained mostly claims and statements in favor of or neutral toward the proposition, with statements in opposition being somewhat underrepresented. SEE SECTION 2
3. Voters rated the 2016 Arizona CIR Statement on Proposition 205 as useful and informative.
- More than two-thirds of voters (69%) rated the Statement as “easy to read.”
- The vast majority of voters rated the Statement as either “very informative” (40%) or “somewhat informative” (50%).
- In deciding how to vote on Proposition 205, nearly a third (31%) of Arizona voters surveyed said the Statement was “very helpful,” and another 41% said it was “somewhat helpful.” SEE SECTION 3
4. Voters shown the 2016 Arizona CIR Statement increased their knowledge and wanted to share it.
- Arizona voters in the online survey were randomly divided into two groups—one reading just official information about Proposition 205 and the other reading those same materials, along with the CIR Statement. The CIR exposure group improved its knowledge scores on all four of the factual claims tested. Readers of the CIR Citizens’ Statement became both more accurate in their beliefs and more confident in the correct knowledge they held.
- Knowledge gains were found consistently across three different voter groups, including those opposed to Proposition 205, those in favor, and those undecided on the measure.
- A large majority of voters (67-70%) said they would “probably” or “definitely” share the four pieces of information from the Citizens’ Statement included in the survey. This finding held true across all three voter groups, though those favoring or opposing Proposition 205 were somewhat more eager to share the information that aligned with their views.
- When asked if they would continue to believe the CIR Statement even if it were refuted by an alternative source, voters were divided. Those favoring Proposition 205 were inclined to believe the CIR Statement in all four cases tested, but other voters were more hesitant to do so. SEE SECTION 4