Affirmative Action Fight Not Over

Sunday, April 6th 2008, 5:03 pm
By: News On 6

A petition to end affirmative action in Oklahoma is pulled, but opponents say the fight may not be over. A group calling themselves the Oklahoma Civil Rights Initiative filed a motion to withdraw its petition on Friday.

News On 6 Reporter Ashli Sims reports they were behind the push to end affirmative action in Oklahoma. Now the Oklahoma Civil Rights Initiative is ending its fight to get on the November ballot.

After months of gathering signatures, accusations of fraud, and legal wrangling on both sides, it seems the petition to end affirmative action in Oklahoma may be over.

"I think it's best. I think it's best for Oklahoma. And I think their fraud was going to be revealed," said Regina Goodwin, Petition Opponent.

A group calling themselves the Oklahoma Civil Rights Initiative collected more than 140,000 signatures to get a state question on the ballot to end affirmative action.

The group wants to end racial preferences in Oklahoma schools and in state contracts, which they consider to be another form of discrimination.

Oklahoma's secretary of state certified the signatures, but reported there were dozens of irregularities and an unprecedented number of duplicate signatures.

Two groups challenged the petition process, claiming fraud. They also say some signatures are illegal, because they're not from registered voters. Backers of the petition say they were upfront with voters and most people knew what they were signing on to.

But, they have filed a motion to withdraw, saying they're "reasonably certain that it will fail to garner the requisite number of signatures." And they don't have the funds to continue to defend the petition.

"I think you have to remain vigilant and it ain't over til it's over," said Goodwin.

Local activist Regina Goodwin has been an outspoken critic of the petition. She says even if this round is over, she believes the fight over affirmative action is not.

"If folks really understood what affirmative action is, that it's about being inclusive; that it's about bringing qualified folks to the table. Then, like I said folks who want a better America, they're going to be for affirmative action," said Goodwin.

Some are questioning whether the petition can be withdrawn this late in the process. A spokesperson with Oklahoma's branch of the American Civil Liberties Union says they're moving forward with their challenge until a judge rules on the matter. Regina Goodwin says she still wants to see the laws on initiative petitions changed.

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