On June 24, 2011, 412 registered voters from across California participated in “What’s Next California?” – the state’s California’s first ever statewide deliberative poll on governance reform, led by Stanford University’s Lane Center for the Study of the American West.
The poll focused on four issues: the initiative process, legislative representation, local government, and tax and fiscal policy. A total of 30 proposals were considered in these four areas. Participants shared their views and engaged with fellow voters in discussions about how our state is governed. The goal was to explore what California voters think should be done to fix state governance.
Rose Associate Director Dr. Kenneth Miller and Rose Research Assistant Aditya Pai co-authored a fifteen page article on the state’s initiative process for the deliberative poll. That article went into a briefing document developed by the coalition of partner organizations and leading academic experts. The results of the poll were interesting, and can be found here.
The poll’s results regarding the initiative process were particularly interesting: “Participants trusted their own decisions through the initiative process and wanted to preserve the process as an exclusive tool of the public. However, they also strongly supported reforms that would empower voters to better understand the consequences of initiatives they are asked to evaluate and increase transparency. Support for “creating a formal review process to allow an initiative’s proponents to amend an initiative follow public input” increased 17 points from 59% to 76%.”
Notably, participants generally opposed reforms that would enable the Legislature to amend initiatives in any way. None of the four proposals that suggested legislative amendment of initiatives achieved support above 37% after deliberation.