Poll: Voters support affirmative action ban, but it's confusing

By Staff Writer

Associated Press, April 2, 2004

Most Michigan voters would support a ban on affirmative action at public agencies and universities based on the language in a ballot initiative, according to a poll released Friday.

But the name of the group pushing the proposal, the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, may be confusing voters. And several groups have gone to court over the wording of the ballot language, saying it doesn’t clearly convey that the proposal would end affirmative action.

A poll by Lansing-based EPIC/MRA found 64 percent support the petition language being circulated by MCRI, which wants to put the issue on the November ballot. Twenty-two percent are against the proposal, with 14 percent undecided.

When asked about MCRI’s goals, 40 percent of those who had heard of group thought the group generally wants to expand or protect civil rights. Ten percent thought the group generally wants to restrict civil rights, and nearly half said they didn’t know or weren’t sure of the group’s goals.

About half of the 600 likely voters polled had heard of MCRI.

The poll was conducted Sunday through Thursday and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

The proposal, as it’s written, says it would ban public agencies from discriminating against or granting preferential treatment to someone based on race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin.

The petition effort comes after the U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 decided last June that the University of Michigan Law School could consider race to create a diverse population.

The court struck down the university’s undergraduate policy for ensuring a mix of students as too formulaic, and university officials revised the policy last fall to include a more comprehensive review of each application.

On the Net:

Michigan Civil Rights Initiative: http://www.michigancivilrights.org/