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California rejects affirmative action measure

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California voters have rejected an attempt to reinstate affirmative action programs in public hiring, contracting and college admissions, keeping a 1996 ban on the government granting preferential treatment based on race and gender.

Supporters of Proposition 16 had hoped to overturn the ban amid a national reckoning over racism following the deaths of Black Americans and other people of color by police.

They say affirmative action programs would expand opportunities for people who still face systemic racism and sexism in education and at work. Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris backs the effort.

Opponents say the government should treat every person equally, and never use race, ethnicity or gender to promote or discriminate against an individual. That group includes Ward Connerly, an African American businessman and former University of California regent who spearheaded the 1996 ban.

FILE - In this June 10, 2020, file photo, Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, left, receives congratulations from fellow Assembly members Sharon Quirk-Silva, D-Fullerton, center, and Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, after the Assembly approved her measure to place a constitutional amendment on the Nov. 3, 2020 ballot to let voters decide if the state should overturn its ban on affirmative action programs, at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. A national awakening on race has driven a well-funded campaign in California to reinstate affirmative action in public hiring, contracting and college admissions. Voters are deciding Tuesday whether to allow the nation's most populated state to grant preferential treatment based on race and gender. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)