Photo credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times / Polaris

The line extended to the sidewalk along University Avenue as voters wait nearly three hours to vote on Election Day at the Cesar Chavez Community Center on November 3rd in Riverside.

Photo credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times / Polaris

The line extended to the sidewalk along University Avenue as voters wait nearly three hours to vote on Election Day at the Cesar Chavez Community Center on November 3rd in Riverside.

The results are based on 100% of the county’s votes.

For the second time in a quarter of a century, Californians appear to have largely rejected positive action.

Unofficial returns show that voters defeated Proposition 16 on Tuesday, which would have allowed California authorities, universities and community colleges to take race, gender and ethnicity into account when deciding on contracts, recruitment and admission of students. Prop. 16 should overturn Prop. 209, which in 1996 forbade positive action.

With 100% of the votes counted in the district, 56.1% of the votes cast are against the measure, while almost 44% of the votes are in favor, but at least several million postal, provisional and same-day ballot papers were still counted. According to unofficial results, 6.4 million votes opposed the measure and 5 million agreed.

The majority of the yes votes – more than 2 million – were cast in Los Angeles and several Bay Area counties, while voters in almost every other counties in the state appear to be against the move. (Go here for the latest results on proposals 15, 16 and 18.)

Prop. 16 called for the language of Proposal 209 of 1996, which prohibited positive action in California, to be removed from the state’s constitution. In 1996 Prop. 209, which forbade positive action, won with 10 points – 54.5% for and 45.5% against. If the vote against Prop. 16 applies, it means that the opinion of the voters on positive measures remains practically unchanged.

The move would have enabled California authorities, universities, and community colleges to consider race, gender, and ethnicity when making contract decisions, hiring, and admitting students.

“We have successfully defeated a move by the far left in America’s bluest state,” Wenyuan Wu, executive director of Californians for Equal Rights and head of Campaign No. 16, said in a statement released early Wednesday. “We won and the principle of equality prevailed again, against a powerful adversary supported by the political establishment, corporate billionaires and interest groups.”

Prop. 16 collected US $ 19 million in cash through seven campaign committees and the support of the state’s democratic establishment, but did not appear to be publicized. Congregation member Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, led the legislative initiative to include Prop. 16 in the vote.

Typically, proposals reach California voters by collecting thousands of signatures in support. Some political observers share how the proposal got to the vote and explain why the Yes-16 campaign failed in two September national polls.

Opponents cited Prop. 16 as violating the civil rights of qualified students who were not admitted to the University of California and California State University to make room for underrepresented students – blacks, Latinos, and Indians.

Prop. 16 brought former UC regent Ward Connerly, the father of Prop. 209, back to California from his home in Idaho to face the challenge.

In an interview with EdSource last month, Black Connerly said he believes there is no such thing as systemic racism in America and that Prop. 16 was an attempt to take power in California. He predicted whites would flee the state if positive action returned.

Proponents of Prop. 16 said positive action would allow the state’s public universities to recruit and support underrepresented students with targeted scholarships and programs, and to find candidates to increase faculty diversity.

An EdSource analysis of student enrollment data over the past 24 years shows that the positive action ban has had a tremendous impact on California’s public universities, with gaps between under-represented enrolled students and college graduates and skilled college graduates.

Proponents, led by Weber, cited the removal of language from Prop. 209 as critical to promoting civil rights for blacks, Latinos, and Indians.

“California is known to be the best,” she said after lawmakers voted to include Prop. 16 in the vote. “Now is the time to make that happen.”

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