Colorado Citizens’ Initiative Panelists Complete Pilot Review, Share Findings On Proposition 105

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Report created by 20-member panel during pilot process details pros and cons of GMO labeling ballot measure, with 11 voting in favor and 9 opposed

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I came into this process thinking I knew exactly how I felt about this issue, and it turns out I had a lot to learn. - Bill Wright, a panelist from Parker

A panel of 20 Colorado voters this week completed the first Colorado Citizens’ Initiative Review (CIR) and released their findings after a 3½-day analysis of Proposition 105. The pilot process brought together 20 randomly selected Coloradans representing a cross section of the state to review the ballot measure on labeling for genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to provide an additional voter education resource leading up to the November election.

After hearing from proponents and opponents of the measure, the panelists had the opportunity to ask questions and deliberate before producing their one-page Citizens’ Statement to inform their fellow voters.

“I came into this process thinking I knew exactly how I felt about this issue, and it turns out I had a lot to learn,” said Bill Wright, a panelist from Parker. “Working through this process I have changed my mind on some of the issues related to GMO labeling, but more importantly, I’ve learned that this process isn’t about how I feel personally. It’s about determining as a group what information is most relevant to Colorado voters as they make their voting decisions on this initiative.”

The randomly selected and demographically balanced group of 20 panelists from across Colorado arrived at the University of Colorado Denver on Sunday to begin their work. They spent the next 3-½ days hearing from proponents and opponents, as well as subject matter experts. They deliberated and shared their findings on Wednesday.

“The Citizens’ Initiative Review process allows a subset of voters to really analyze issues put before us on the ballot,” said Ben Hamilton, a panelist from Denver. “It allows us to really take the time to delve into both sides and offer voters information that is at least similar to what they would want to see in making their decisions.”

Proven highly effective and helpful to voters by independent evaluators and adopted into law in Oregon, the CIR is a new and innovative way for Coloradans to evaluate a ballot measure at election time. The Colorado CIR pilot is also studying the impact and reach of the State Ballot Information Booklet, or “Blue Book.”

“This process has helped me understand how the ballot initiative process works,” said Amy Bissell, a panelist from Pueblo. “I have learned that I need to be a better voter and more engaged citizen. I want to be the first signer on an initiative to make this process a legal part of future Colorado ballot initiatives.”

The Citizens’ Initiative Review was championed in Oregon by the nonprofit Healthy Democracy, which is now conducting pilots in two other Western states (Colorado and Arizona).

Different from Oregon, the Colorado pilot Citizens’ Statement will not be published in the state’s voter guide, the Blue Book, because doing so would require legislative action. Instead, the panel’s statement can be found http://www.CIRColorado.org for all voters to read and share.

No state monies are being used for the pilot project, and all costs are privately funded through charitable foundations and individuals.

To learn more about the Colorado Citizens’ Initiative Review Pilot and read the Citizens’ Statement before voting, visit http://www.CIRColorado.org and follow the project on Twitter at @ColoradoCIR and Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/CIRColorado.

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Stacey Hartmann
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