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California Voters Reject Proposal to Collect Racial, Ethnic Data - 2003-10-08


In addition electing Arnold Schwarzenegger governor, voters in California have rejected a proposal that would have stopped state officials from collecting and using most racial and ethnic data.

It was known as Proposition 54. Supporters argued it would have been a step toward a color-blind society in California by preventing the state from classifying individuals on the basis of race, ethnicity or national origin.

Opponents countered that by removing any references to race or ethnicity in state government statistics, Proposition 54 would undermine efforts to improve education for minorities and would hurt medical research into diseases that disproportionately impact specific ethnic groups.

California's Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante finished a distant second to Arnold Schwarzenegger in the governor's race. But in his concession speech he took some measure of satisfaction in the defeat of Proposition 54.

"But the most critical issue here on the ballot today was Proposition 54, which put vital services and health at risk here in California," he said.

A second ballot measure was also defeated Tuesday. That measure, known as Proposition 53, would have required the state to set aside three percent of tax revenues to build new bridges and other public structures.

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