Judge Dismisses Complaints That Anti-Affirmative Action Petitioners Misled Voters

Naomi Zeveloff, Colorado Independent, September 24, 2008

An administrative law judge has thrown out charges that Amendment 46 petition circulators misled people into signing onto the anti-affirmative action measure.

Amendment 46 seeks to end preferential treatment for women and minorities in public employment, education and contracting. The controversially named Colorado Civil Rights Initiative is part of a five-state effort launched by California businessman Ward Connerly to end affirmative action.

Connerly’s campaign has been criticized as a misleading attempt to make voters believe that they are promoting equal opportunity rather than destroying it. And in Colorado, at least a half-dozen people filed complaints with the secretary of state’s office, saying they were duped by petition circulators who told them that signing onto Amendment 46 would uphold diversity programs.

But last Friday, an administrative law judge dismissed those claims because they did not provide enough detail. And though several of the six complainants say they may file their grievances again, the months-long process has left them demoralized.

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The complainants—whose grievances were compiled into a single case—were told that they could not take their names off of the petitions. “It is kind of like casting a vote,” explains Rich Coolidge, spokesman with the secretary of state’s office. “As soon as you cast your ballot it is counted.” They were referred to an administrative law judge to hash out their grievances against Amendment 46’s backers.

But the judge dismissed their complaints on Friday, saying that they did not provide enough detail to move forward. Sear says that they were asked to cite Colorado statute that was violated.

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Amendment 46’s backers, meanwhile, say they are pleased with the outcome.

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The court’s dismissal is just the latest in a string of failed attempts to challenge Amendment 46. Earlier this month, the secretary of state ruled that a counter-initiative aimed at defending affirmative action did not have enough valid signatures to make it onto the ballot. Then the Vote No on Amendment 46 campaign dropped its lawsuit that claimed, among other things, that signature gatherers were trucked in from out of state, which is illegal in Colorado.

“Our opponents have exhausted their legal options and we now welcome them to have an honest debate before voters on the merits of Amendment 46,” said Corry.

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