DETROIT – Michigan voters decided Tuesday that race and gender should not be factors in deciding who gets into public universities or who gets hired for government work.
By approving Proposal 2, Michigan becomes the third state in the past decade — joining California and Washington — to ban some types of affirmative action programs.
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With 70 percent of precincts reporting, 58 percent, or 1,418,982 people voted "yes" on Proposal 2, and 42 percent, or 1,010,196 voters, were opposed.
"What it all comes down to is Michigan doesn't want to judge people by the color of their skin," said Doug Tietz, a spokesman for the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, the group that supported the proposal. "I think Michigan was ready to move beyond that."
A majority of voters who said their families were getting ahead financially supported the proposal, according to a statistical analysis of the vote from voter interviews conducted for The Associated Press by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International. A majority of those who said they were falling behind financially were opposed.
Voters who identified themselves as Republicans tended to favor the proposal. Those who considered themselves Democrats tended to oppose it.
Opponents worried that if the constitutional amendment passed in Michigan, the battle over affirmative action programs would spread to other states and roll back progress made toward equality for minorities and women.
"We think it's really sad that voters were deceived by a fraudulent campaign," said David Waymire, a spokesman for One United Michigan, a group opposed to the ballot campaign.
But supporters said affirmative action was unfairly keeping some people from getting jobs and university admissions because minorities were being given an edge. The ballot drive was led by Jennifer Gratz, a white student from suburban Detroit who says she was turned away from the University of Michigan in 1995. She says if she had been black, American Indian or Hispanic, she would have been admitted.