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Citizen Panel Reviewing Oregon Ballot Measures

A political experiment is under way this week in Salem. A panel of randomly selected citizens started meeting Monday to weigh the merits of one of the seven measures on Oregon’s November ballot. It’s part of a legislatively-approved effort to bring voters a more balanced look at ballot measures.

Organizers from Healthy Democracy Oregon say the panel includes a cross-section of age, ethnicity, and party affiliation. It kind of works like a jury trial.

The two dozen participants will hear arguments for and against a ballot measure and can call on witnesses and experts to testify. At the end of the week they’ll craft a statement based on their deliberations.

That statement will go in this fall’s voters’ pamphlet.

Marion Sharp of Tigard is taking a week off from her job to take part on the panel. She says she hopes the Citizens’ Initiative Review can inform voters better than the sharp rhetoric that often marks ballot measure campaigns.

Marion Sharp: “I think a conversation amongst people who are concerned and care about the issues might produce better results than what we’ve been seeing.”

This week’s panel will consider a criminal sentencing initiative that increases punishments for repeat sex offenders and drunk drivers.

A second group will review a different ballot measure next week.

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