As the November 2008 election draws near, several states may soon find themselves voting on legislation with arguably longer lasting effects than a four year Presidential term, says UC Irvine political science associate professor Louis DeSipio.  
With a recently awarded $50,000 grant, DeSipio, along with researchers from UC Berkeley, will be examining trends in voter supported state bans on affirmative action programs.  
For Californians, it was Proposition 209 back in 1996. With its passage, state-level affirmative action programs in higher education and public employment ceased to exist. Washington State's 1998 Initiative 200 and Michigan's Proposition 2 in 2006 yielded identical results.  
Last week, interest groups from Arizona and Nebraska submitted petitions to put similar amendments on their November ballots - a move Coloradans also made in March with Amendment 46. All three states' petitions are currently being challenged for validity.  
"Popular opinions about state affirmative action programs, particularly in higher education, are quite deeply held by many voters," says DeSipio. "When voters, rather than legislators, are asked, affirmative action programs are often ended."  
Using entrance and exit polling data, he and UC Berkeley's Lydia Chavez and Andres Jimenez will determine how factors such as voter demographics, media and special advocacy and interest group efforts impacted the voter decisions about affirmative action in California, Washington and Michigan.  
"By looking at past elections and factors that contributed to voter turnout and results, we may better anticipate the coalitions that will form to support and oppose affirmative action in each of these states," he says.  
He adds that their findings should be of great interest to groups in Arizona, Nebraska and Colorado looking to sway the November vote either way.  
This study is funded by the nonprofit Public Interest Projects with $5,000 coming to UCI. 

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