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Abstract

In September 2012, the City of Edmonton launched a four-month strategy to engage a range of citizens in the development of a policy proposal for the use of Internet voting in civic elections. A variety of initiatives were implemented, including public opinions surveys, roundtable advisory meetings with seniors and other stakeholder, and a mock “Jellybean” online election to test the technology. At the core of the public involvement campaign was a Citizens’ Jury – a deliberative forum which engaged a group of citizens, demographically and attitudinally representative of the city’s population, in assessment of Internet voting and the development of recommendations to city council. While the Jury reached a verdict supportive of Internet voting, policymakers in Edmonton rejected the policy proposal. In light of the Edmonton experience, we highlight factors that contribute to the ineffectiveness of deliberative experiments and discuss some challenges for public participation at the local level.

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