Sunday, August 24, 2008

3 down, 2 to go... Ward Connerly's faux "Civil Rights" initiative suffers a third consecutive defeat in Arizona

On Thursday, California businessman Ward Connerly was handed his third consecutive defeat in this year's five-state campaign designed to erect new barriers to equal opportunity in public education, public employment and public contracting. Connerly has been unable to get the ballot initiatives certified in the majority of the states where he and his associates have sponsored and funded efforts this year; identical measures in Oklahoma and Missouri similarly failed to qualify for the ballot.
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"Today is another important victory in the fight to preserve equal access to opportunity. As was the case in Oklahoma and Missouri, Ward Connerly's misguided and divisive effort has again fallen short, this time in Arizona. In light of the staggering disqualification rate that the Secretary of State found in its review of the signatures, the curtain has been pulled back on Connerlys attempts to abuse the democratic process," said John Payton, NAACP Legal Defense Fund President and Director-Counsel.
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Arizona's Secretary of State decertified the so-called "Arizona Civil Rights Initiative" because it did not gain sufficient public support to place it on the ballot this November. The initiative, if passed, would have amended the Arizona constitution to ban programs designed to provide equal access to women and minorities in the areas of public education, public employment and public contracting. The petitions were rife with phony or invalid signatures, fake addresses and other disqualifying factors. For example, one notarized petition included the names and "signatures" of American presidents Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford. It also listed Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi with Saudi Arabia listed as his street address and Tibet as his city of residence.
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The campaigns in Arizona and several other states have been widely accused of employing deceptive and improper practices in the signature gathering process.
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The NAACP LDF has been intimately involved in challenging these targeted campaigns to roll back civil rights nationwide. The NAACP LDF worked closely with Protect Arizona's Freedom, a grass-roots volunteer coalition of Arizona citizens who monitored the state's examination of the petitions to ensure that the ballot initiative process was not manipulated. Thursday's victory was yet another sign that Connerly's efforts are being met with close scrutiny and resistance nationwide, and that the people reject his campaign to erect barriers to equal opportunity in public education, public employment and public contracting.

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