We often hear from people who think government doesn't listen. We also have observed that many people don't trust polls or public-opinion surveys because they think the samples are too small or are simply unrepresentative of what the public truly believes.

For anyone in the Portland area who has those concerns, we offer an easy remedy: Please take part in an experiment in democracy that's occurring in your community. By agreeing to sign up for Metro's Opt In program, you can assure people like you are represented in one of the largest ongoing public-opinion surveys around. Plus, you will have the chance to influence decisions that affect the region.

Expanding the survey

The 17 newspapers in the Portland Tribune and Community Newspapers group are partnering with Metro and other entities to boost enrollment in the Opt In project. Already, more than 17,000 people have signed up for Opt In, and they are taking part in regular surveys that help Metro make decisions about important regional matters such as jobs, parks, transportation and our economy.

The surveys are conducted by the research firm Davis, Hibbitts & Midghall, which is known for its independence of thought and quality of work.

However, the advice Metro receives through the Opt In program can be improved if participation can be expanded to groups that aren't fully represented yet. In particular, the program needs more people of color, more Washington County residents, more Republicans, more people without college degrees and more young people.

Valuable feedback

That's where our involvement - and our encouragement - comes in. We're hoping that, with regular reminders from us, the hundreds of thousands of people who read our newspapers in print or online will take the time to sign up for Opt In.

It's a simple matter of going online and clicking on the link:

Your personal information will not be sold or shared with any other government or business.

We know our readers are involved and active citizens. They have valuable feedback to contribute to regional decisions. We hope to add your voice to those who are already answering the Opt In surveys.

We will share the results with you in upcoming stories. And we will work with Metro on future surveys and share the results of those with you, too.

As an added incentive, anyone who signs up through the above link will automatically be entered into a raffle to win one of five $100 Visa Cash Cards - although the bigger prize may be helping to shape the livability of this region for decades to come.

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