Affirmative action opponents seek to force popular vote

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Opponents of Washington’s affirmative action initiative have filed a referendum to force a popular vote on the measure, the day after it passed the state Legislature.

Opponents will have 90 days to gather 129,811 valid signatures. If they can, it will override the legislative approval and force the initiative to a popular vote this November.

The affirmative action measure, Initiative 1000, is set to allow state agencies and schools to consider factors like race in hiring, and engage in targeted outreach and recruitment. Technically an initiative to the Legislature, lawmakers were able to approve it themselves without sending it to a vote. It passed the House and Senate late Sunday night, the final night of the 105-day legislative session.

Affirmative action has been illegal in Washington since a 1998 initiative overturned an earlier version of the policy.