Colorado voters will have extra help making up their minds about a ballot initiative to label genetically modified foods.
A new effort, the Colorado Citizens Initiative Review, will produce a voter guide on Proposition 105, a ballot measure that proposes labeling foods containing genetically modified ingredients. The review is a pilot project aimed at helping voters better understand complicated ballot measures.
"We find that voters often say that they are perplexed and confused by these measures and are not sure that they are obtaining factual information," said Brenda Morrison, a public policy consultant with Denver-based Engaged Public.
Morrison is heading up the citizen review effort, which is new to Colorado, but has its roots in Oregon, where a similar project is now a regular part of the voting process. It is backed by the group Healthy Democracy, a nonpartisan organization aimed at improving public policy.
The review works a little like the jury process. The group mailed letters and applications to 5,000 voters around the state, looking for participants in the three-and-a-half day process. They are selecting a group of 20 citizens that reflect the voter composition of the state, in terms of location, education, and a few other factors, said Morrison.
On Sept. 7, that group of 20 convenes in Denver for a few days of intensive study on the measure. They will research the initiative and view presentations from those in favor and against. They will also hear from neutral sources, who are agreed upon by the pro- and anti-initiative factions. The panel has the opportunity to ask questions, and the process is also open to the public.