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Vargo Distinguished Teaching Chair and Associate Professor of Political Science
University of Alberta
Direct Phone: (780) ***-****
2-45 Medical Sciences Building
Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2H7
About the University of Alberta's Faculty of Engineering (www.engineering.ualberta.ca) The UofA's Faculty of Engineering is one of the largest and most accomplished engineering research and teaching centers. With 4,100 students, 20 research chairs, 100 ne ... more
Department of Political Science, University of
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One way to do that is through binding referendums, where people can petition to get policy measures put on an election ballot, Kahane said.
California has done this for years, resulting in, among other problems, a chronically underfunded school system due to repeated votes to restrict taxes.
"It's a little like public opinion polls," Kahane said of these votes - voters don't have a great incentive to get informed, and special interest groups have a strong interest in swaying the vote.
Places like B.C., Oregon and Edmonton are experimenting with an alternative called deliberative democracy, where a super-informed and representative focus group makes non-binding recommendations to governments.
Kahane helped organize such a group recently in Edmonton to help set the city's climate change policy.
Traditional polls and open houses aren't great ways for people to get involved in government, Kahane said: you answer some questions or put up a sticky note, but you don't see how your input gets turned into policy.
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