Despite their importance and frequency, ballot questions often cause confusion among voters. As the Springfield Republican put it during this past election, “To the untrained ear or the unschooled voter, ballot questions sound somewhat like an Abbott and Costello ‘Who’s on First?’ routine.”
The goal of the pilot project, made possible through a partnership between Representative Hecht, the Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University and Healthy Democracy, the organization that pioneered CIR in Oregon, is to test whether the CIR system can be similarly helpful to Massachusetts voters in understanding ballot questions.
June 10, 2016: The team will send a mailer to 10,000 randomly selected voters inviting them to participate as panelists for the pilot project. Of those who indicate their willingness to participate, an objective and scientific statistical process will be used to select 20 Massachusetts voters, carefully balanced to ensure that the group reflects the demographics of the overall electorate.
July 12, 2016: The advisory board will select the measure that the CIR will evaluate.
August 25th through 28th 2016:
Professional moderators lead the group of 20 Massachusetts voters through a comprehensive appraisal of the selected ballot measure. The group will hear from the campaign supporting the ballot measure, the campaign opposing the ballot measure, and relevant policy experts. At the end of the four day deliberation, the 20 voters will produce a statement of findings on the ballot measure.
Through Election Day:
Using all forms of media, the team will disseminate the statement of findings as widely as possible across Massachusetts.