OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — A measure that reinstates the use of affirmative action in state employment, contracting and admission to public colleges and universities was losing in early returns.

Tuesday's vote on Referendum 88 asked voters whether they want to approve or reject Initiative 1000, which was passed by the Legislature in April. I-1000 amends current statutes that prohibit state government from discriminating against or giving preferential treatment to individuals or groups based on race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in public employment, public education, or public contracting.

The initiative passed by lawmakers last spring would allow the consideration of being part of a minority group to be a contributing factor for a qualified applicant.

Along with race, sex, and ethnicity, the measure allows consideration of age, disability and honorable discharge or military status.