- The Washington Times - Monday, November 6, 2006

For up-to-the-minute results, news, and analysis, make WashingtonTimes.com your home for election night.

One of the more than 200 state ballot measures facing voters in 37 states today would end racial preferences in admissions to public colleges in Michigan, a state where such policies were confirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court three years ago.

Others would make English the official language in Arizona; legalize possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana for people 21 and older in Nevada and Colorado; and ban smoking in all public places or raise tobacco taxes in six states: Arizona, California, Missouri, Nevada, Ohio and South Dakota.

California’s Proposition 86 would increase the state cigarette tax by $2.60 per pack and use the revenues for health initiatives, including tobacco prevention and control programs.

However, in at least three of those six states — Arizona, Ohio, and Nevada — other measures on the ballot are supported and financed by the tobacco industry to allow more smoking in public places and bar enactment of further smoking restrictions.

Although a broad mix of measures are on ballots this year, the press has focused primarily on five: a repeal of a ban on most abortions in South Dakota; a ban on same-sex “marriage” in eight states; a proposal on the Missouri ballot that would allow embryonic-stem-cell research; bids to raise the minimum wage in six states; and proposals in 12 states to restrict or ban governmental seizure of property for private use.

In Michigan, Ward Connerly, a former regent for the University of California who wants to end racial preferences nationwide, is pushing Proposal 2, which would end those policies in Michigan in three areas: public hiring, public contracting, and admissions to public colleges or universities.

Also supporting the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative is Jennifer Gratz, who made national news in 1997 when she sued the University of Michigan law school, saying she was denied admission because she is white.

In a 2003 ruling, the Supreme Court held that the university’s point system for undergraduate admissions was unconstitutional, but it did not prohibit the school from using race as a factor in admissions.

Some published reports have described a dead heat for the campaigns for and against the Michigan civil rights proposal. But Doug Tietz, who is managing the campaign to get Proposal 2 passed, said the most recent poll by EPIC-MRA, a Michigan-based polling firm, found supporters ahead by 48 percent to 42 percent.

“We’re confident but not cocky,” Mr. Tietz said yesterday in a telephone interview. “There is something inherently wrong about judging someone on the basis of his or her skin color, and we think Michigan voters are smart enough to recognize that.”

Four measures on the Arizona ballot will address that state’s huge problem of illegal immigration. The measures would deny bail to illegal aliens charged with serious felonies; make English the state’s official language; prohibit illegals from receiving punitive damages in lawsuits; and bar them from receiving certain government services and benefits.

Anti-drug groups say they are equally concerned about two measures on the Nevada and Colorado ballots, which would decriminalize possession of marijuana by adults in those states, even though it remains illegal under federal statutes.

Question 7 on the Nevada ballot also appeared on that state’s ballot in 2004 and failed, said Joyce D. Nalepka, president of Drug-Free Kids America’s Challenge.

“But these groups just keep coming, and they are spending $900,000 in this campaign” in Nevada, Mrs. Nalepka said.

“They want to legalize marijuana everywhere in the country, even though the marijuana available today is up to 15 times stronger than it was in the 1960s and 1970s, and it is a dangerous drug.”

Meanwhile, a question on the South Dakota ballot would legalize use of marijuana for medical purposes.

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