Both Miami and OSU use race as a consideration in their admissions process.
Opponents said the referendum would have given the government the power to discriminate. They also criticized a commission that would have been created to oversee diversity efforts at state government agencies.
Supporters said the policy is necessary to fight discrimination in universities, contracts and government jobs.
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Washington is one of eight states that ban affirmative action in state government and public colleges and universities, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
U.S. Supreme Court decisions have allowed colleges to consider race as long as it is "narrowly tailored" to promote diversity and is just one factor among many, according to KHQ. Racial quotas have been ruled unconstitutional.