Citizens’ Initiative Review provided the following announcement:
The 2018 Citizens’ Initiative Review is coming to Watertown. From Wednesday, September 12 through Saturday, September 15, 20 Massachusetts voters will gather at the Watertown Public Library to produce a clear, reliable statement of essential information on Question 1, the ballot initiative on nurse staffing limits.
Citizens’ Initiative Review (CIR) is an innovative project in civic engagement designed to help voters make informed decisions on complicated ballot questions.
The 2018 CIR is being organized by the office of State Representative Jon Hecht (D-Watertown) and the Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University, with guidance from a nonpartisan Advisory Board that includes former Governor Michael Dukakis, Representative Brad Hill (R-Ipswich), and leading academics and advocates in the field of voter education and civic engagement.
The twenty citizen panelists who will gather in Watertown have been selected to reflect the state’s overall voting population in terms of age, gender, race/ethnicity, place of residence, party affiliation, and education.
Over the course of four days, the citizen panelists will have the opportunity to hear from the Coalition to Protect Patient Safety (the Yes on Question 1 campaign) and the Committee to Ensure Safe Patient Care (the No on Question 1 campaign). They will also question independent experts from Massachusetts, California, Connecticut and New York on a range of issues pertaining to nursing staffing limits.
After deliberating on what they have learned, the citizen panelists will write a one-page Citizens’ Statement setting out the key facts they believe voters should know about the ballot question as well as the strongest and most reliable arguments for and against. The Citizens’ Statement will be distributed widely through social media, the press, and other channels.
This year’s CIR will be the second one held in Massachusetts. In 2016, 77 percent of voters who saw the Citizens’ Statement on marijuana legalization (Question 4) said it was helpful in making their decision on that ballot question. 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.
Panelists from the 2016 CIR found the experience extremely rewarding, writing jointly: “Many of us consider it to be our most meaningful experience in politics. And for those of us who have struggled to keep faith in the political system, it helped to restore it.”
Legislation filed by Rep. Hecht and Rep. Hill to make CIR a permanent part of the state’s electoral system received a favorable report this session from the Joint Committee on Election Laws and is currently pending in the House Ways & Means Committee.