California Proposition 16: The return of affirmative action in public hiring, contracts and college admissions

Election guide

Voting yes on Prop 16 means reversing a 1996 decision by state voters that banned public institutions from considering race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin when it comes to hiring, offering contracts and college admissions.

Voting no on Prop 16 means California would remain one of eight states that prohibit affirmative action by public institutions.

Supporters: Vice presidential candidate and California Sen. Kamala Harris is just one of many high-profile officials backing Prop 16. The UC Board of Regents, ACLU of California and other advocacy groups support the measure as well. They say that lifting the ban would increase diversity and help address race and gender inequality.

Critics: O.C. Supervisor Michelle Steel and state Sen. Ling Ling Chang of Diamond Bar, both Republicans, oppose Prop 16. Led by former University of California Board of Regents member Ward Connerly, the Californians for Equal Rights calls the measure “divisive and discriminatory.” Connerly chaired the campaign for Prop 209, the divisive 1996 ballot measure that banned affirmative action in California.

State Sen. Steve Bradford, D-Gardena, center, raises his fist in celebration as the Senate approves a measure to place a proposed Constitutional amendment on the November ballot to overturn its ban on affirmative action programs, at the Capitol, in Sacramento, June 24, 2020. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
State Sen. Steve Bradford, D-Gardena, center, raises his fist in celebration as the Senate approves a measure to place a proposed Constitutional amendment on the November ballot to overturn its ban on affirmative action programs, at the Capitol, in Sacramento, June 24, 2020. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

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