ST. LOUIS, Mo. – Organizers of the so-called Missouri Civil Rights Initiative, led by rich California political operative Ward Connerly, failed to turn in signatures today in an attempt to qualify their initiative to ban affirmative action programs in Missouri.

Signature petitions for all initiatives seeking to qualify for Missouri’s November ballot were due today in Secretary of State Robin Carnahan’s Jefferson City office. When the 5 pm deadline rolled around, it became clear that MoCRI organizers were abandoning their efforts in Missouri.

“Missourians have spoken loudly and clearly over the last several months – and they have said that Missouri will remain a state that embraces the value of fairness, and the goal of creating an equal playing field for women and racial minorities,” said Brandon Davis, a spokesman for the WeCAN coalition, which opposed the ballot measure. “Affirmative action programs have been one of the most effective tools in achieving these goals in the arenas of public education and public contracting.”

WeCAN (Working to Empower Community Action Now) is a coalition of community, faith, labor, business, and education leaders who lined up across the state to oppose this initiative and mobilized to educate voters. Teams of WeCAN voter educators throughout the state stood alongside MoCRI petitioners to make sure that they approached citizens honestly and that citizens were aware of the impact the initiative would have on valued public programs.

“Missouri is a state that believes in fairness and equality,” said Jeff Ordower, Missouri ACORN Head Organizer, “Once our voter educators got the word out, people learned quickly that this initiative was bad for everyone.”

According to Lara Granich, director of Missouri Jobs with Justice, that effort is what made the difference, “WeCAN volunteers logged well over 1000 hours educating voters on the real impact of this initiative on our state, and we found that when told the truth about the negative social and economic effect of this initiative on our state, Missouri voters refused to sign the MoCRI petition.”

Connerly’s signature gatherers became more desperate and brazen in their deceptive practices as the May 4 deadline to turn in signatures approached – MoCRI organizers employed a person to gather signatures who was wanted in three states on charges of “obtaining signatures by deception”; Connerly’s requests for out-of-state gathers to come to Missouri were posted on websites of know extremists and hate groups; and just last week, WeCAN volunteers witnessed a MoCRI gatherer using carbon paper to trick voters into unknowingly affixing their name to the petition.

The WeCAN coalition was the main opposition to Connerly’s initiative, and the only group that coordinated both paid and volunteer efforts to defeat MoCRI.