Initiative 1000, the Washington State Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Act, appears headed towards a public vote this November thanks to a right wing effort that seeks to overturn the watershed measure through a referendum.
Referendum 88, sponsored by Kan Qiu, asks Washingtonians if they want to keep or scrap Initiative 1000, which the House and Senate adopted just before Sine Die at the end of the 2019 regular legislative session back in April. If a majority of Washingtonians votes Approved, I-1000 would remain the law of the land and go into effect. If a majority votes Rejected, I-1000 would be eliminated.
The court-approved ballot title for Referendum 88 is as follows:
The legislature passed Initiative Measure No. 1000 concerning affirmative action and remedying discrimination, and voters have filed a sufficient referendum petition on this act. Initiative 1000 would allow the state to remedy discrimination for certain groups and to implement affirmative action, without the use of quotas or preferential treatment (as defined), in public education, employment, and contracting.
Should Initiative 1000 be
- Approved [ ]
- Rejected [ ]
Qiu’s group submitted what it said were close to about 177,000 signatures today at the Secretary of State’s Elections Annex in Olympia, and they plan to submit about 20,000 more before the deadline passes for submission of petitions, which is this Saturday at 5 PM. Even without those extra signatures, they appear to easily have a significant enough signature cushion to qualify for a random sample check.
We believe many of those signatures were obtained under false pretenses, however. Activists from around Washington State have told us that they encountered R-88 petitioners who used outright falsehoods to pitch the referendum, saying it would help veterans and bring back affirmative action.
But the whole purpose of R-88 is to do the opposite… by abolishing I-1000.
Sadly, the people behind R-88 don’t want state agencies to have the freedom to conduct outreach to disadvantaged and historically underrepresented groups. They are convinced that such outreach is racism. Their “Let People Vote” rallying cry is disingenuous, as the people’s representatives have already voted to adopt I-1000, which was signed by twice the number of people who signed R-88.
NPI has taken a position urging an Approved vote on Referendum 88 in the event it qualifies, which we expect it to. Our board took an Approved position on R-88 last month after our staff assessed that the measure was likely to qualify.
If you are part of an organization that would like to join the coalition to safeguard fairness and opportunity in Washington, we invite you to join us at approve88.org.
Because R-88 is on the verge of qualifying, efforts to implement Initiative 1000 will be paused, Governor Jay Inslee said in a statement this evening.
Said the Governor:
“The Legislature’s approval of I-1000 signaled an important commitment to dismantling the systemic barriers that keep many Washingtonians from having equal access to educational and economic opportunities. Our agencies have begun initial preparation to implement the new law, and are prepared to launch this work if and when the law is allowed to go into effect. We are awaiting the verified count from the Secretary of State before taking any additional action.”
Former Governor Gary Locke also responded to the submission of signatures for R-88 as one of the distinguished elected leaders quoted in NPI’s statement announcing the formation of the Approve 88 coalition.
“I believe I-1000 celebrates our state’s diversity and is the right action to ensure fairness and opportunity for all our citizens,” said Locke, who served as Washington’s chief executive from January of 1997 until January 2005 and later as the United States of America’s Secretary of Commerce and Ambassador to China. Locke worked closely with fellow former Governors Dan Evans and Chris Gregoire to champion I-1000 as an initiative to the Legislature.
“Contrary to some beliefs, I-1000 does not repeal I-200’s prohibitions on quotas, set-asides, or preferences,” Locke explained.
“I-1000 merely makes it clear that recruitment and outreach are permissible and provides opportunities for veterans, women, and minorities for consideration by universities and colleges for admission and for contracting with governments.”
We deeply appreciate the work of our four living governors in support of diversity, opportunity, fairness, and inclusion in Washington. Dan Evans, Chris Gregoire, Gary Locke, and Jay Inslee have all been outspoken in calling for I-200 to be amended so that our state agencies and institutions of higher education can be catalysts for improving lives and bettering our communities. By adopting I-1000, the Legislature showed it was capable of listening and acting on a critical issue.
But now I-1000 is on hold until Referendum 88 is decided.
It’s vital that everyone in Washington who wants to see I-1000 remain the law of the land get active and join the coalition to Approve Referendum 88. Together, we can keep our state moving forwards instead of sliding backwards.