Posted on July 20, 2005

Mich. Battles Over Affirmative Action

Tim Martin, AP, July 19

LANSING, Mich. — An elections board could not agree Tuesday on whether to certify a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban some affirmative action programs in Michigan — a petition drive dogged by allegations of fraud and misrepresentation.

Supporters of the measure said they now will ask the courts to certify the signatures, a key step toward getting on the November 2006 ballot.

The four-member Board of State Canvassers could not agree on how to handle the signatures during an emotionally charged six-hour hearing Tuesday.

Most of the debate centered on whether there should be an investigation into the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative’s signature-gathering techniques.

Opponents said an undetermined number of signatures were gathered through misrepresentation, with many black people tricked into signing a petition they thought would protect affirmative action and civil rights.

The proposal would prohibit the use of race and gender preferences in university admissions and government hiring.

“It’s clear people were fooled and lied to when they signed this petition,” said David Waymire, spokesman for One United Michigan, which opposes the measure.