citizens assembly

Examples of Wise Democracy Using Random Citizens

Here is a great article by George Sranko that describes a variety of success stories using random citizens to give direction to government.

"There are two key ingredients: direct involvement by a representative cross-section of the entire community, province, or nation through random selection of citizens; and dynamic facilitation that empowers the group to reach a unified perspective via creative shifts and breakthroughs, rather than through the usual back-and-forth negotiation."

Read the full article:

Oregon Citizens' Initiative Review

In the USA, many state elections include "initiatives", which are a means by which a petition signed by a certain minimum number of registered voters can force a public vote (plebiscite) on a government decision. In the run up to state elections, the media airwaves are filled with support and opposition soundbite advertisements and debates.

In Oregon, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization called Healthy Democracy Oregon has piloted the "Citizens’ Initiative Review" which is a reform to Oregon’s initiative process that provides voters with clear, useful, and trustworthy evaluations of statewide ballot measures through the use of a random citizen review panel.

Here is a great video that explains the new process:

First Global Democratic Deliberation in History

Earth from spaceOn September 26, 2009 approximately 4,000 citizens in 38 countries discussed and recognized their collective opinions on the issue of climate change.  The format was an incredible example of best practices in public participation, that included:

Citizens' Assemblies: Wise Democracy from the Minipublic

(Originally published on September 6th 2008)

Politicians should take note; there is a new answer to some of the toughest questions of our times. When presented with an issue with no obvious popular and sensible solution, or a situation where a legislature is unable to make progress on an important topic, 100 random citizens can be called on to solve the political puzzle, as they did in the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Ontario (my home province).

Ontario referendum should approve MMP by 84%, but will more likely fail

At the end of their 8 month learning, consultation and deliberation process the 103 members of the the Ontario Citizens’ Assembly voted 84% in approval of Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) over the current First-Past-the-Post (FPP). If we can assume that any other group of random citizens would have done the same, than we can guess an educated public will also vote for MMP in the referendum.

Citizen Assembly process a high point for democratic engagement


Process for developing electoral reform already demonstrates better democracy in action

Toronto - A growing list of political science professors from across Ontario agree that the Ontario Citizens Assembly was an exceptional example of a legitimately democratic public policy development process.

An Evaluation of the Ontario Citizens' Assembly Process

To structure my evaluation of the Ontario Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform I use the proven criteria and suggestions from the popularly cited "Public Participation Methods: A Framework for Evaluation" by Gene Rowe and Lynn J. Frewer, published in 2000 in the Science, Technology, & Human Values journal. You can download a free copy of the article PDF from I also included additional indicators at the end that did not seem to quite fit in the Rowe Frower paradigm but provide useful insight. I end with some potential criticisms and suggestions but a largely positive assement.

About the Citizen's Assembly Monument Project is a volunteer project of Jason Diceman, an independent stakeholder engagement consultant and deliberative democracy researcher in Toronto. He is neither associated to the Vote For MMP campaign nor the Ontario Citizens’ Assembly Secretariat.

Here is the story so far...

A Summary of the Ontario Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform

Starting September 2006, 103 randomly selected Ontario citizens committed to 30-40 hours a month for 8 months to get educated, hear public consultation and deliberate on the topic of electoral reform to make a unified policy recommendation that would be voted on by a binding public referendum.

The public process was mandated by government, well financed and executed in an independent and transparent manner and with great care and consideration by highly respected experts.

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