Professor John Gastil--the nation's leading CIR researcher--has completed his academic assessment of the 2016 Massachusetts Citizens' Initiative Review pilot project and it is now public.
Professor Gastil's findings include that:
-The 2016 Massachusetts CIR panel achieved a high quality of deliberation, which enabled panelists to understand and consider key arguments for and against Question 4.
-The 2016 Massachusetts CIR produced a clear and reliable Citizens’ Statement.
-Voters rated the 2016 Massachusetts CIR Statement as useful and informative.
-Voters shown the 2016 Massachusetts CIR Statement on Question 4 increased their issue knowledge and were eager to share its findings .
To see the full report, head to: https://sites.psu.edu/citizensinitiativereview/files/2016/12/CIR-2016-Massachusetts-Report-1z9k7np.pdf.
On Day 1 of the deliberations, the citizen panelists heard three presentations.
-Dennis Burke, Legislative Director and General Counsel for State Senator Jason Lewis, and Dan Smith, Legislative Director and General Counsel for State Senator Pat Jehlen, presented an overview of the current status of marijuana under state and federal law.
-Jim Borghesani, Communications Director for Yes on 4, and Will Luzier, Campaign Manager for Yes on 4, presented Yes on 4's opening statement.
-Hannah Kane, State Representative and Steering Committee Member for the Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts, and Kevin Sabet, President and CEO of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, presented the Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts' opening statement.
Please see the three pdf files below for the presentations.
Please see below for the demographics of the twenty Massachusetts voters who spent four days deliberating on Question 4.
Please see below for exact parking and entrance instructions. The Atrium School is located at 69 Grove Street in Watertown, but access to its parking lot is off Kondazian Street. See the red line marking the right turn onto Kondazian Street off Grove Street and the red star that marks the correct lot to park in. The blue line then charts the path that leads to the space inside the school where the CIR deliberations will take place.
The Citizens' Initiative Review deliberations are almost here. Starting next Thursday, August 25th, the citizen panel will convene for four days to evaluate Question 4, the marijuana ballot question. Here's how the deliberations will play out, day by day.
Op-ed: Project aims to provide insights on marijuana legalization ballot question [excerpted from the Fall River Herald]
By State Rep. Jonathan Hecht and Peter Levine
“What does it mean to leave the EU?”
According to reports from National Public Radio and other media outlets, Google searches for this and related questions spiked in the UK after the Brexit vote, indicating that some voters may have cast their ballots first and asked questions later.
That phenomenon is not unique. In this country, according to research conducted by the non-profit Healthy Democracy, in Oregon, 75 percent of voters found ballot questions to be confusing, and 66 percent of respondents admitted to voting on questions they didn’t understand, with comparable results from polls in Washington and Colorado.
This year, Massachusetts voters will be asked to weigh in on four ballot questions covering a range of pressing public policy matters. Before they head to the polls, voters deserve high-quality, non-partisan information...
[Click here to read the rest]
The pilot project team is excited to announce the names of the seven experts who will participate in the CIR deliberations. These experts bring deep knowledge and experience from a wide range of disciplines pertaining to marijuana policy and will serve as an absolutely balanced and unbiased resource for the citizen panelists. Please see the document below for the names and backgrounds of the seven experts.
UPDATE, 8/24: Please see the post titled "The Deliberations, Minute by Minute" for the composition of the two expert panels. You will notice that Andrew Freedman, Director of the Colorado Governor's Office of Marijuana Coordination, is no longer able to participate. Mr. Freedman will be replaced by Karin McGowan, Deputy Executive Director and Director of the Community Relations and Legislative Services Division, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
FURTHER UDPATE, 8/26: Due to technical limitations, neither Karin McGowan nor John Hudak will be able to participate in the expert panels. Please see The Deliberations Minute by Minute for the up to date composition of the expert panels.
From all over Massachusetts! They are, after all, representative of the state's overall electorate across six key demographic criteria: age, gender, race/ethnicity, geographic location, party affiliation, and educational attainment.
Pictured: Proponents of the Massachusetts Casino Repeal Initiative on Election Day 2014.
This post was written by Ian Clarke, the Tufts University fellow working on the Citizens’ Initiative Review project team this summer. As part of Ian's work, he'll be preparing a weekly blog exploring topics related to CIR and the initiative and referendum system in Massachusetts.
The initiative and referendum craze that swept the newly populist nation in the late nineteenth century didn’t compel as many Americans in the Eastern half of the country. However, while the overwhelming majority of its neighbors remained traditional in the avenues they offered for new legislation, Massachusetts, well in keeping with its tradition of blazing trails, became a hotbed in the push for direct democracy.
Around the turn of the century, the first efforts to establish direct democracy in Massachusetts began to organize, without success. Finally, after a decade of misfires, the Massachusetts Direct Legislation League began hiring effective, energetic staff who managed to organize popular support for their ideas. Both the Democrats and the Roosevelt-supporting Progressive Party utilized this support as a weapon in the elections of 1912.
Three years later, Governor Walsh made direct democracy one of his priorities in his efforts to secure a constitutional convention through a legislative vote. This measure was finally approved by both houses and the voters, leading to the 1917 Massachusetts Constitutional Convention. The vote to institute Initiative and Referendum processes was ultimately a clean-cut success, with a tally of 163-125-30, but only with significant compromises. These conditions continue to stretch the amount of time necessary for a measure to reach a public vote relative to other states with Initiative and Referendum processes.
In the Massachusetts public’s first-ever ballot question, cider and beer were officially designated as non-intoxicating, and thus became legal. A decade later the people revoked Massachusetts’ prohibition measure entirely. Other changes in the early years of direct democracy involved incremental changes in everything from the manner in which party candidates had to be nominated to the regulation of sports on Sundays.
By the middle of the century, ballot questions became a wholly ingrained part of the state’s political landscape. Even though they were in function separate from the world of the legislature, they became important political tools as candidates touted support or opposition to controversial questions. An effort to legalize female contraception was arguably the most decisive factor in the Democrats securing the first majority in the House of Representatives in the state’s history.
A grassroots activist culture developed around initiatives in the second half of the century, leading to heavy popular-instituted regulation of pollution and animal testing. Other targets have included the power of the Governor’s Executive Council and tax levels.
But more recently, concerns have grown nationwide that direct democratic processes, intended to circumvent special interests and put more power in the hands of the public, are susceptible to messaging tactics from small groups of people with particular policy agendas. More and more members of the public vote based on little if any fact-based information, and there have been allegations in many states that interest groups have pushed for questions to reach the ballot because legislatures would never allow them.
In considering the reasons we adopted the Initiative and Referendum system in Massachusetts, it’s clear that we have to do more to reconcile the way the system works and the motivation behind it. One of these steps could very well be the process the Citizens’ Initiative Review Pilot Project team will conduct, and I personally look forward to observing it to find out this August.