Washington Voters Reject Affirmative Action

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Washington Voters Reject Affirmative Action

In Washington State, voters appear to narrowly reject a legislative initiative that would reinstate affirmative action for state government policies.


 Referendum 88 would have permitted the state government and state higher education institutions to use affirmative action in state employment, contracting, and education. The referendum was asking voters to approve or reject an initiative passed by the legislature that allows the state to use race, gender, ethnicity, or national origin as a factor when it comes to making decisions.


Early returns indicate that a slim majority of voters are rejecting the referendum.


In 1998, state voters passed an initiative that bans preferential treatment based on things like race, sex, or national origin. The new legislative initiative sought to continue banning strict quotas but to allow the use of softer forms of affirmative action.


Supporters say that the state should be able to take past discrimination into account when shaping state policies. They say that the 1998 initiative ties the hands of state government efforts to ensure that all people in Washington are treated fairly. Opponents counter that affirmative action policies are themselves discriminatory. They say that state government should treat everyone equally, regardless of race, sex, or national origin.


Washington conducts its elections exclusively by mail. Ballots must be marked by 8 p.m. on Election Day, so it can take days to tabulate final calculations.


Do you support state affirmative action policies that allow government to take factors such as race or sex into account when it comes to hiring, education, or contracting?

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