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
May 24th 2007
`Yes' side to battle for voting reform
Toronto Star

The Ontario, Canada campaign for proportional voting is off to a strong start. Earlier in 2007, a Citizens Assembly recommended mixed-member proportional voting replace winner-take-all for provincial elections.

April 16th 2007
Ontario to vote on electoral system
The Globe & Mail

Ontario's Citizens Assembly on Electoral Reform has sent mixed member proportional voting to referendum in a 94-8 vote.

April 2nd 2007
Panel picks radical voting changes for Ontario
Ottawa Citizen

A study group of Ontario Citizens Assembly members recommends that the province adopt a mixed-member proportional voting system.

January 28th 2007
Redistricting reform draws a map of great disappointment
San Francisco Chronicle

According to political scientists, California's independent redistricting proposal alone can't make races more competitive. Also needed: larger legislature, public financing and proportional voting.

January 8th 2007
Quest to make every vote count

The chair of Ontario�s Citizens Assembly is optimistic that the body will endorse a move to proportional voting.

January 5th 2007
Citizens' assembly probes changes to electoral system
Ancaster News

Ontario's Citizen's Assembly considers proportional representation system for future elections.

December 13th 2006
Poll Shows Support for California "Citizens Assembly" to Recommend Changes
California Progress Report

New America Foundation poll shows support for California Citizen's Assembly.

November 15th 2004
Ottawa may open debate on electoral reforms
The Globe and Mail

June 10th 2004
'Proportional' Voting Favoured, Opposed
Whistler Question

Whistler Canada considering replacing current electoral system with PR.

November 24th 2003
McGuinty likes citizens assembly initiative, B.C. premier says
Toronto Star

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Recent Articles
October 19th 2009
A better election system
Lowell Sun

Election expert Doug Amy explains how choice voting can "inject new blood" into the elections of Lowell (MA), and give voters a greater incentive to participate.

October 16th 2009
Haven't Detroit voters spoken enough?
Livingston Daily

In Detroit, there have been three mayors in the past two years and the current one has come under scrutiny. Perhaps a system like instant runoff voting will help bring political stability to motor city.

August 21st 2009
Black candidate for Euclid school board to test new voting system
Cleveland Plain Dealer

Limited voting, a form of proportional voting, will be used in Euclid (OH), in the hopes of allowing better representation of minorities.

July 2nd 2009
Reforming Albany
New York Times

FairVote's Rob Richie responds in a letter to the editor making the case for proportional voting systems to bring substantive reform to New York's legislature.