Voters in Washington state narrowly defeated a referendum about affirmative action.
Photo: Elaine Thompson/Associated Press
Photo: Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

Washington state voters reject affirmative action

Controversial Referendum 88 was rejected by narrow margin

Voters in the state of Washington rejected a controversial affirmative action proposal in Tuesday’s elections.

According to the latest figures from the Washington secretary of state’s office, Referendum 88, which would have reinstated the use of affirmative action in state employment, contracting and admission to public colleges and universities, was defeated 52% to 48%. 

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With 100% of precincts reporting and 983,438 votes counted, 509,144 people voted against the referendum and 474,294 people supported it.

Opposition to the measure was led by a group of Chinese immigrants, according to the Seattle Times.

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.

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. 

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