Oklahoma Anti-Affirmative Action Initiative
What's at Stake
A challenge in the Supreme Court of Oklahoma to the certification of signatures submitted in support of an anti-affirmative action initiative.
On April 4, 2008, backers of a proposed amendment to the Oklahoma Constitution that would end equal access and opportunity programs in the state asked the state supreme court to withdraw the measure from consideration. Supporters of the so-called Oklahoma Civil Rights Initiative (OKCRI) – spearheaded by Ward Connerly’s American Civil Rights Institute (ACRI) as part of a national crusade against affirmative action – admitted that they had failed to collect the signatures needed to get the proposal on this November’s ballot.
The request for withdrawal came shortly after Oklahoma voters challenged the petition before the state Supreme Court, alleging irregularities and questionable
practices in the collection of signatures by the OKCRI. The Oklahoma Supreme Court certified the ballot
measure’s signatures despite a report from Secretary of State M. Susan Savage indicating that the signature count “resulted in an unprecedented
situation where large numbers of duplicate names and addresses were discovered
well into the signature counting process….[and] it is a reasonable assumption
that not all duplicates have been discovered.” Savage also noted that her report
to the court took much more time to compile than usual “due to the scope and
number of irregularities noted among the signature pages.” Among the
irregularities Savage noted were numerous instances of circulators signing their
own petitions multiple times.
The ACLU’s Racial Justice Program, ACLU of Oklahoma and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund brought this challenge to preserve the integrity of the
electoral process in Oklahoma. We continue to find numerous deficiencies in our on-the-ground investigation of the OKCRI, consistent with the beliefs of the OKCRI’s own backers that its petition is defective and should be withdrawn.