In case you haven’t heard, Metro has launched a new way to gauge public opinion. It’s called Opt In and they liken it to an “online opinion panel.” Once enough people have signed up, they’ll use the citizen panel to gauge feedback on important issues facing the region: things like how to set transportation investment priorities.
Since its launch in January, about 2,000 people have signed up. Metro is making a big push to reach 10,000 by the end of this year because that’s the number they need for the responses to be statistically significant.
“… we are hoping to use this tool to help inform how we prioritize regional biking and walking routes.”
— Lake McTighe, Metro
Underscoring the need for more people to sign up, Metro announced today that so far, the people that have signed up are, “lacking in diversity.”
Here are some numbers from Metro:
- Ninety-five percent of the participants are white. (“… Less than 100 blacks and Hispanics signed up for the panel,” said a Metro news story.)
- Seventy percent are Democrats, six percent are Republican.
- Only 23 percent hail from Clackamas or Washington counties (which collectively have 56 percent of Metro’s constituency).
- Less than 2 percent of the participants so far are under the age of 25.
Metro says they plan to embark on a targeted outreach effort toward these underrepresented groups in hopes of boosting their sign-ups.
Another thing to consider is that some groups have rallied their members to join the panel. Case in point is the Home Builders Association of Metropolitan Portland. Metro says they’ve been “vigilant” about getting their membership to sign up. Has your organization been as vigilant?
Lake McTighe, who manages Metro Active Transportation Partnership, says the tool will be an essential avenue to understand what the public thinks. “For example,” she says, “we are hoping to use this tool to help inform how we prioritize regional biking and walking routes for development in our upcoming Regional Active Transportation Action Plan.”
As if all the above wasn’t enough reason to join, they’re giving away $50 cash gift cards to five lucky folks who sign up by March 15th.
Check out OptInPanel.org to sign up and learn more.