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Colorado Rejects Banning Affirmative Action

Colorado voters narrowly rejected banning affirmative action at public colleges and universities. The measure would have made it illegal for state government to consider race, ethnicity or gender in education, hiring or contracting decisions.

Just over 50 percent of voters opposed the measure, while 49.4 voted for it, according to local media reports. Election officials just Friday finished counting ballots from Tuesday’s vote.

Young people were a key factor in the campaign to convince voters against approving the ballot measure, pushed through by California businessman Ward Connerly, who backed a similar measure that passed this week in Nebraska.

“Young people turned out in record numbers against this measure, especially on college and university campuses,” according to Carmen Berkley, president of the United States Student Association, a group that organized against the initiative. The measure was defeated on a two-to-one margin in areas with large student populations, according to the association.

A wide coalition of labor, education, religious, business and media organizations opposed the ban. “We’re all very excited. I think we’ve proven here in Colorado that Ward Connerly can be defeated and when voters know truth about his initiative they’ll knock it down,” says Jessie Ulibarri, economic justice program director for Colorado Progressive Coalition, a group that opposed the measure.

Connerly’s affirmative action bans have passed previous years in California, Washington and Michigan.

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