the Massachusetts Citizens’ Initiative Review

[Press Release] – A 20-person panel of voters convened by the Massachusetts Citizens’ Initiative Review (CIR) pilot project has released its Citizens’ Statement on Question 1, the ballot question on nurse staffing limits.

The Citizens’ Statement is intended to assist voters by providing them with the results of their fellow citizens’ four-day deliberation on the ballot question. It sets out the panel’s key findings as well as the strongest and most reliable reasons to support or oppose Question 1.The Citizens’ Statement is available online.

The Massachusetts Citizens’ Initiative Review deliberations were held from September 12-15 at the Watertown Free Public Library. The campaigns for and against Question 1 both appeared before the citizen panel three times to present their arguments and answer questions.

The citizen panelists also heard from seven neutral experts in fields relevant to nursing, patient safety, and healthcare. Trained facilitators guided the deliberations that resulted in the Citizens’ Statement.

The Massachusetts CIR pilot project was organized by State Representative Jonathan Hecht in partnership with Tufts University’s Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life and Healthy Democracy, the organization that pioneered CIR in Oregon and others states. Experience in Oregon, where CIR has been part of the official election process since 2011, has shown it to be a highly effective and well-received way to inform voters about complicated ballot measures.

This is the second time Massachusetts Citizens’ Initiative Review has been used in Massachusetts.

In 2016, 77% of voters who saw the Citizens’ Statement on marijuana legalization (Question 4) said it was helpful in making their decision. On major factual issues, voters who read the Citizens’ Statement were better informed and more confident in their knowledge than those who only read the official voter guide. John Gastil, Professor of Communications at Penn State and one of the nation’s leading CIR researchers, will conduct surveys to determine how helpful the 2018 Citizens’ Statement proves for Massachusetts voters.

The 20-member citizen panel was selected from respondents to a mailer sent to 15,000 randomly-selected Massachusetts voters.

About Peter

Associate Dean for Research and the Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Tufts University's Tisch College of Civic Life. Concerned about civic education, civic engagement, and democratic reform in the United States and elsewhere.
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