New book published on the CIR

Hope for Democracy coverAfter a decade of studying the Citizens’ Initiative Review (CIR), John Gastil and Katherine R. Knobloch have published a book on the process with Oxford University Press. Hope for democracy: How citizens can bring reason back into politics showcases the CIR and reveals how this process has helped voters better understand the policy issues placed on their ballots. Placed in the larger context of deliberative democratic reforms, Hope for Democracy shows how citizens and public officials can work together to bring more rationality and empathy into modern politics. We’re pleased to have received early endorsements from many folks, as shown below. It’s now available wherever finer (and lesser) books are sold. If you do snag a copy, please post a review to let us and the rest of the world know what you think of it.

For those who want to learn more about the CIR, this site brings together research, blog posts, and relevant links and writing on the CIR process. This unique method of citizen deliberation was first implemented by statute in the State of Oregon in 2009 then made permanent in 2011. Every even-numbered year, the Oregon CIR Commission convenes a panel of 20 randomly selected citizens to deliberate on a ballot measure. Panel members spend three to five days hearing from expert witnesses, meeting in small groups, and weighing rival claims about a proposed policy. Then the panel members write a Citizens’ Statement that appears in the official voters’ pamphlet distributed by the Oregon Secretary of State to every registered voter. Because Oregon is a vote-by-mail state, this means that each voter receives a ballot along with guidance from the Citizen’s Initiative Review at roughly the same time.

For a quick summary of our research on the CIR, visit my Scholars Strategy Network policy brief.

For a podcast interview on it, check out this episode of the No Jargon podcast, which translates academic research into plain English.

Our ongoing research on this process has been funded by the National Science Foundation (2010 and 2014), the Democracy Fund (2015), and the Kettering Foundation (2012).

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