Citizens Assemblies

Citizens Assemblies are increasingly popular ways to effect fundamental electoral reform.

"Average citizens" come together to learn about electoral systems, assess the one used in their polity and, if they so choose, send a reform proposal to referendum. Members usually receive a modest stipend. They can be elected or chosen at random. Oftentimes a minimum female presence is mandated. Other assemblies have been supplemented by parallel student assemblies, as in Ontario, Canada. Citizens Assemblies usually have a narrow mandate: to think about electoral systems alone - not term limits, campaign finance reform or anything else.

The success of a Citizens Assembly is rooted in its ability to generate serious reform without regard for the concerns of incumbent legislators whose political futures depend on the character of that reform. While the process is becoming common in Canada, there is widespread public support for similar initiatives in California, according to a December 2006 New America Foundation poll. [ View coverage ]

Citizens Assembly News
Recent Articles
October 21st 2008
Christopher Smitherman and Marian Spencer United on Yes on Issue 8
Cincinnati Herald

Commentary by former Cincinnati vice-mayor and FairVote board member Marian Spencer and Cincinnati NAACP president Christopher Smitherman on the case for adopting Issue 8 and proportional representation in Cincinnati this November

September 23rd 2008
Final arguments today on Port Chester voting-rights remedy
Lower Hudson Journal News

A federal judge in White Plains will hear final arguments today on how to remedy Port Chester's village board elections, which were found to put Latino voters at a disadvantage. FairVote has filed an amicus brief arguing for a PR solution.

September 20th 2008
Issue 8 deserves votersí OK
Business Courier of Cincinnati

This newspaper editorial provides a strong endorsement for Cincinnati's campaign to reintroduce proportional voting.

August 18th 2008
A Free and Fair Vote Gives Power to the People
The Seattle Weekly

Blogpost from FairVote Chair Krist Novoselic advocates cumulative voting for Washington State.