Affirmative Action Proponents Charge Fraud in Ballot Issue

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The effort to put an anti-affirmative-action proposal before Michigan voters was wrought with fraud and should be blocked from the November ballot, lawyers for the proposal's opponents argued in federal court Friday.

But lawyers representing the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative and state elections officials told U.S. District Judge Arthur Tarnow that voters would be harmed if they're not allowed to decide whether to ban race and gender preferences in government hiring and public-university admissions in Michigan.

Tarnow has indicated he would issue a written ruling before Sept. 8, the deadline for printing ballots for the Nov. 7 election.

On Thursday, Tarnow heard testimony from witnesses who said they were tricked into signing or collecting signatures on petitions circulated by the MCRI. State courts thus far have ruled the proposal should be on the ballot.

But opponents, including Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and an affiliate of the pro-affirmative-action group By Any Means Necessary, have sued in federal court claiming violations of the Voting Rights Act.

The MCRI submitted more than 508,000 voter signatures in support of its ballot drive, far more than the 317,517 required by state law.