Anti-Affirmative Action Initiative Faces Charges of Fraud
Affirmative action advocates are urging voters in Colorado to speak out against the fraudulent practices of petitioners for an anti-affirmative action ballot initiative. Ward Connerly has organized ballot initiatives in five states this year to ban affirmative action for women and people of color in public education, public employment, and public contracting. His petitioners target minorities with their so-called Civil Rights Initiative.
The Denver Post reports that petition signers have already filed three formal complaints charging the petitioners with fraud. Petitioners targeted community events like Denver's Martin Luther King Day march to get as many signatures from minorities as possible.
Colorado Unity, a group that supports affirmative action, received many complaints from petition signers regarding the petitioners' tactics. Bill Vandenberg, co-chair of Colorado Unity, told the New York Times, "People were told that this would end discrimination, in some cases that it would actually support affirmative action. If this is how Ward Connerly and his supporters go about getting initiatives on the ballot, what does it say about their integrity?"
Dara Burwell, who signed the petition and later realized that what she signed was anti-affirmative action, told the New York Times, "I'm angry, because this is so deceptive. Iíve contributed to get a measure on the ballot that stands for everything I donít believe in."
If petitioners are charged with fraud, some batches of signatures could be disqualified. In 2006, Connerly was accused of deception on an initiative in Michigan, but the judge dismissed the lawsuit.
Media Resources: The New York Times 04/01/08; Feminist Newswire 01/07/08; Denver Post 04/02/08; Ms. Magazine Winter 2008