The state’s voters outlawed such preferences in 1998; legislators tried to bring them back last April. A new ballot initiative lets the people choose.
Voting in Washington has begun on a ballot initiative to overturn that state’s ban on racial preferences in government. Voters outlawed racial preferences in 1998, as part of a mini-wave of eight such state initiatives, led by California anti-preference crusader Ward Connerly in the 1990s. The momentum behind that push for color-blindness in government has long since petered out, as identity politics became ascendant. The advocates of race-neutral government hiring, contracting, and college admissions are now on the defensive, fighting relentless efforts to undo their work.
In April 2019, the Washington state legislature hurriedly passed Initiative 1000 to bring preferences back into government policy. Now voters are facing a confusing choice. Though the referendum currently before them, Referendum 88, was instigated by racial-preference opponents, overwhelmingly Asian, to overturn Initiative 1000, a yes on the referendum would confirm passage of Initiative 1000 and reinstate preferences, and a no vote would preserve the pre-Initiative 1000 color-blind status quo.
Heather Mac Donald is the Thomas W. Smith fellow at the Manhattan Institute, contributing editor at City Journal, and the author of the bestselling War on Cops and The Diversity Delusion (available now). Follow her on Twitter here.
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