In this article, Amy N. Farley, Matthew N. Gaertner, and Michele S. Moses examine the use of ballot initiatives as a particularly attractive form of direct democracy for opponents of affirmative action in higher education. Building on previous scholarship, the authors question whether anti-affirmative ballot initiatives validly reflect voters’ attitudes toward affirmative action. The authors examine the case of Colorado's Amendment 46, an anti-affirmative action ballot initiative. They investigate the language of the initiative itself, as well as voters’ perceptions of and confusion around its intent, and the factors that influenced voting behavior. They employ item response theory to estimate voters’ attitudes toward affirmative action. The authors then describe the prevalence of voter confusion around the initiative's intent. Finally, employing a binary logistic regression model, they analyze survey data to determine which factors influenced voting behavior. They find that the initiative's language was successful at confusing voters who intended to support affirmative action. Following the U.S. Supreme Court's recent decision in Fisher v. University of Texas and in anticipation of its decision in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, the authors call for greater scrutiny with regard to the use of initiatives to craft education policies that have a disproportionately negative impact on members of disadvantaged populations.
Democracy under Fire: Voter Confusion and Influences in Colorado's Anti-Affirmative Action Initiative
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Amy Farley, Matthew Gaertner, Michele Moses; Democracy under Fire: Voter Confusion and Influences in Colorado's Anti-Affirmative Action Initiative. Harvard Educational Review 1 September 2013; 83 (3): 432–462. doi: https://doi.org/10.17763/haer.83.3.b356k655n4m0u860
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