This week, a group of Oregonians will meet in Salem to figure out where they stand on an upcoming ballot measure. It's called the Citizens' Initiative Review and it's been a part of the Oregon election process since 2010.
It’s a panel of 20 voters meant to represent a demographic balance. They hear arguments from policy experts and supporters of both sides of a ballot measure. Their conclusions are published in the voters' pamphlet that's mailed to every household in the state.
Now, this model of citizen-crafted analysis is being exported to both Colorado and Arizona.
Paul Teske, dean of the school of Public Affairs at the University of Colorado in Denver, serves on the advisory group of his state's version of the program. He said it could be useful since there are often five or more issues on the ballot.
“I think it's fair to say that even people that follow it closely may not know all the details,” Teske said. “So I definitely think there's a need for more information."
The Colorado panelists will likely examine a measure that would require special labeling for genetically engineered food products. Their counterparts in Oregon will also parse a GMO labeling measure. A separate group will look at the proposed Top Two primary.