Anti-Affirmative Action Petition Drive Nearing an End

Tim Martin, AP, Jan. 3

LANSING, Mich.—A group seeking to end affirmative action in Michigan says it is in the final stages of a petition drive aimed at putting a proposed constitutional amendment on the 2006 ballot.

The Michigan Civil Rights Initiative must turn in at least 317,757 valid signatures of voters to qualify for the ballot. The group must collect all those signatures within 180 days, which would bring a January deadline for an effort that began last summer.

Chetly Zarko, a spokesman for the group, declined to say how many signatures had been collected or exactly when they would be turned in. A posting on the group’s Web site said the signature-gathering phase of the campaign would be finished in the next several days.

“It’s going well,” Zarko said Monday. “I feel confident.”

The initiative would prevent public agencies and universities from granting preferential treatment based on race, color, ethnicity, national origin or sex. The group’s efforts began after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2003 that the University of Michigan could consider race to create a diverse student population.

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