Monday, September 22, 2008
About 400 Pennsylvanians will gather at CMU and three other sites across the commonwealth Saturday to talk about a same sex marriage amendment to the state constitution. The participants are taking part in a "deliberative poll" run by the Southwestern Pennsylvania Center for Deliberative Democracy. Deliberative democracy is based on the idea that citizens will become informed on all topics before casting votes but center co-director Robert Cavalier says people rarely have the time to devote to such an endeavor. He feels one answer is a deliberative poll where a representative sampling of the community agrees to meet on a given day to discus a topic. Information is sent to the participants beforehand and then experts are available to answer any questions that may arise from moderated discussions. Cavalier says at the end of the day the participants are polled and the results will be sent to lawmakers in an effort to help them better understand what an informed electorate has to say on the subject rather than just a random sample of those answering a phone poll who may or may not fully understand all of the issues. Cavalier says it took several months just to create background materials that fully describe the positions of each side in a way the average citizen can understand.
Posted by Mark Nootbaar at 6:00 AM