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Referendum 88 is close race in latest election results

A volunteer holds a sticker showing support for I-1000. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Friday’s election results have resulted in a tight race for  Referendum 88  — the affirmative action referendum. For a short time, it flipped and was being approved with a difference of only 842 votes.

As more counties reported, that flopped back to a rejection from voters — as it has been since Election Day. Even so, the votes are only about 13,000 apart. That’s considered close when you’re counting over 1.6 million votes.

While technically a vote on whether or not to repeal I-1000 — a measure approved by the state Legislature in April — the affirmative action measure appeared on ballots as Referendum 88.

Check more election results

It was written to allow the previously-approved I-1000 to go into effect, expressly allowing Washington state to implement affirmative action policies in public employment, education, and contracting. It also specifically does not allow the use of “preferential treatment” or quotas. In this case, “preferential treatment” is defined as using race, gender, ethnicity, age, etc. as the sole factor in hiring or admission standards.

Supporters have stated that it’s a necessity for promoting racial equity in Washington, overturning a two-decade-long state ban on affirmative action. Opponents, though, claimed that it will actually create divides among racial groups and make Washington less equitable.

Former Seahawks WR Doug Baldwin voices support for affirmative action

I-1000: Does affirmative action have a place in Washington state?

Over the course of election season, Referendum 88 was endorsed by three former Washington governors in Dan Evans, Gary Locke, and Christine Gregoire.

“I-1000 opens the door. That’s all it does,” said former Washington Governor Christine Gregoire in March. “It opens the door to qualified candidates who want to go to college, who want public employment, and want public contracting.”

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