California Voters Uphold Affirmative Action Ban 

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Voters at Polling Place casting their ballots. Voter Here sign in foreground.

This week, Californians voted to keep a 24-year-old affirmative action ban intact. 

The proposal, known as Proposition 16, would have repealed a 1996 statute that blocks public colleges and universities from using race-conscious admissions to ensure underrepresented minorities are given equal access to higher education. 

More than 56 percent of voters (6.8 million) turned down the measure, despite many advocates pushing for it this summer. Democrats raised $31 million for the Yes on 16 campaign, compared to $1.6 million in funds raised by the bill’s opposition, Politico reports. 

California State University, the country’s largest university system, was in support of repealing the affirmative action ban, as was the University of California and many other higher education institutions across the state. California is the most diverse state in the country and, with 2.4 million students enrolled in fall 2019, it has the nation’s largest college population, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. California’s decision may have an influence on how affirmative action’s legality is ruled in other state and federal courts. 

“Tuesday’s election was a tough day for racial justice issues across the country, and affirmative action was no exception. From the results here and elsewhere, we see that much work is required, and that many opportunities exist, to enlist more champions in our fight for equity,” Vincent Pan, executive director of Chinese for Affirmative Action said in a press statement. “The reality is that there is much work to be done, much to be proud of, and much to build upon.”