An AI tool that helps inform voters discuss ballot measures.

WhatsApp Group Join Now
Telegram Group Join Now
Instagram Group Join Now

A voter casts his ballot in Dropbox for the 2024 presidential primary election. Stanford University’s Digital Deliberative Poll uses AI to help sample voters discuss complex ballot measures and then publicly post the results.

Californians vote on many ballot measures, but rarely participate in substantive public debates about the measures’ content and impact.

It’s not just about apathy. Rather, it’s an example of “rational ignorance,” a term coined by economist Anthony Downs in 1957 to describe this democratic reality: Because your individual vote doesn’t matter much among millions of votes, the study So it is wise not to spend precious time. Complex issues on the ballot

But, when so many of us remain rationally ignorant, our election results do not reflect the public interest.

This year, however, Stanford political scientists are trying to combat the problem with an innovative tool: a digital deliberative poll.

The poll will allow hundreds of Californians to weigh in on specific ballot measures. One set of possible candidates for consideration are three competing constitutional amendments that include voting requirements for taxes.

Here’s how digital deliberative polls work. Stanford’s Deliberative Democracy Lab collects a representative sample of California constituencies. Participants are paid for their time and childcare responsibilities. Their internet speed is increased when required.

First, the platform, developed in collaboration with Stanford’s crowdsourced democracy team, guides poll participants through steps to establish a baseline. Then, some members of the group intentionally. The rest are in a control group that is not intentionally compared.

Then, the AI-assisted platform randomly divides the sample into small groups of 10 that engage in video-based dialogue on ballot measures and experts representing different perspectives during the full session. Decide the questions to ask the panels. Small group discussions and plenaries alternate throughout the process.

AI facilitates an equitable debate, forcing reluctant participants to speak up. If people become impolite, the platform can intervene.

At the end of the deliberation, participants (and the control group) are polled again on the measures. Differences between pre- and post-survey results are shared with the public to show the impact of feedback on opinion.

“It’s a social science experiment and a form of public education,” said Stanford’s James Fishkin, who leads polls and the Deliberative Democracy Lab. “It overcomes ‘rational ignorance’ because each person, rather than one voice in millions, is one voice in a small group of 10 who engage in meaningful dialogue.”

Fishkin personally originated the concept of deliberative polling as an event in 1988, and has deployed it on issues ranging from Korean reunification to civil service reform in Brazil. Recently, Fishkin and his team conducted an intentional poll called “America in One Room” to get Americans with diverse views to weigh in on issues ranging from energy to immigration. Got a chance.

The momentum to use deliberative polling in California is related to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s 2021 comeback bid, adding to public concern about flaws in California’s direct democracy.

In response, Secretary of State Shirley Weber asked former Governor Jerry Brown and former Chief Justice Ronald George to recommend initiative, referendum, and recall reforms. With the help of the nonpartisan Think Long Committee for California and Nathan Girdles of the Berggruen Institute, their report proposed a public, institutional platform for informed deliberation on ballot measures. A 2022 Public Policy Institute of California poll found 77 percent support among likely voters for an independent citizens’ commission to review measures.

WhatsApp Group Join Now
Telegram Group Join Now
Instagram Group Join Now

Leave a Comment