Vicarious Deliberation: How the Oregon Citizens' Initiative Review Influenced Deliberation in Mass Elections

John Gastil, Robert Richards, Katherine Knobloch


The state of Oregon established the Citizens’ Initiative Review (CIR) to improve the quality of public deliberation during direct elections. To better understand how a deliberative “mini-public” can influence electoral deliberation on complex ballot issues, we analyzed the 2010 CIR’s Citizens’ Statements as well as how the Oregon electorate used them. Analysis of this case shows the political feasibility of intensive deliberation and the Oregon public’s appreciation of having access to neutral information developed by peers. This study also examines how the CIR Statements were written, their distinctive topical coverage relative to conventional voting guides, and what they left out of their policy analyses.


ballot initiatives; deliberative democracy; information processing; minipublics; political knowledge; policy analysis; public opinion; voting guides

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