‘Misled’ petition signers say Amendment 46 defeat brings relief

(Photo/pinklaura, Flickr)
(Photo/pinklaura, Flickr)
The Vote No on Amendment 46 campaign isn’t the only group pleased to see the anti-affirmative-action measure lose, albeit by a teensy margin on Thursday afternoon.

Several people who complained that they were misled into signing on to the proposal also expressed happiness that the measure flopped.

Tracy Sear of Englewood said that she was approached in February by a man collecting signatures to get Amendment 46 onto the ballot. He told her it would restore “equality in the workplace.” When she pressed him on its true intent, he told her it “could” chip away at some preferential treatment programs. Sear asked him again and he admitted that it would eliminate affirmative action. Sear did not sign the petition. But several others did and later filed complaints with Colorado Secretary of State Mike Coffman’s office. One woman said that a petition circulator told her that affirmative action was due to expire and she should sign to renew it. Another said that a circulator told her that the measure would end discrimination in Colorado.

In September, an administrative law judge threw out these and other charges, saying the complainants did not provide sufficient detail about their allegations.

Sear, for her part, did not re-file her complaint. But she was pleased to hear that Amendment 46 had flopped. “I think it is wonderful,” she said. “But what is ironic about the outcome is that Amendment 46 is so vaguely worded you would have to do quite a poll and a random selection of people to find out why they voted for or against it. The language is so confusing.”

Ward Connerly, who sponsored the failed Colorado measure, as well as successful initiatives in California, Michigan, Washington state and Nebraska, denied charges that petition circulators were instructed to deliberately mislead people. In a wide-ranging interview with the Colorado Independent on Wednesday afternoon, Connerly said that petition circulators were told to be nuanced with their approach to the topic, because the amendment seeks to ban preferential treatment and discrimination in public hiring, contracting and education. That is different than a full-out reversal of affirmative action, he said. Connerly also said that he “can’t respond fully” to the allegations because the campaign hired an outside group, National Ballot Access, to gather signatures.