The Citizens’ Initiative Review, which uses a balanced panel of citizen jurors to evaluate and inform voters about state ballot measures – the way it is done by state law in Oregon – will receive a trial run in this fall’s Colorado election.
For the pilot run, the Colorado jury will examine the genetically modified (GMO) food labeling Initiative 48, which, if passed, would require food that has been genetically modified or treated with genetically modified material to be labeled “Produced with Genetic Engineering” starting on July 1, 2016.
The Colorado Citizens’ Initiative Review (CIR) will task 20 citizen panelists, balanced by political affiliation and geography, with studying Initiative 48 and putting their findings forward to voters. They will deliberate for up to 3 ½ days, while hearing directly from proponents and opponents of the issue. The sessions will be moderated by professional facilitators, and neutral policy experts will be available for questions.
“The Colorado CIR is an opportunity for Coloradans to test the effectiveness of the citizen jury model for the evaluation of ballot measures, which can be complex and confusing for voters,” said Cathy Shull, advisory board member and executive director of Progressive 15, a public policy organization representing Northeast Colorado. “The genetically modified food labeling initiative was selected for review because it could have broad impact on citizens across the state for years to come.”
The Colorado CIR pilot will also study the impact and reach of the state’s neutral State Ballot Information Booklet, or “Blue Book.”
The Citizens’ Initiative Review was championed in Oregon by the nonprofit Healthy Democracy, which is also conducting a pilot in Arizona this fall.
Unlike Oregon, however, the Colorado pilot Citizens’ Statement will not be published in the state’s voter guide, because doing so would require legislative action. Instead, the panel’s statement will be published at www.circolorado.org for all voters to read and share.