Understanding the 6 constitutional amendments on the NC ballot

You’ll have some extra reading to do, when you enter the voting booth, this year.

North Carolina has an unusually high number – six – constitutional amendments on the ballot.

They cover six issues:

  • Requiring a picture ID to vote in person, in the future.
  • Capping the state income tax rate at 7% (currently, it is 10%)
  • Strengthening victims’ rights.
  • Guaranteeing the right to hunt and fish.
  • Changing the way judicial vacancies are filled when they occur between elections.
  • Changing the way people are appointed to the state elections and ethics board.

It’s those last two that are particularly controversial.

“Both of those would take power that currently the governor has a stronger hand in and give the legislature a stronger hand in,” points out Wake Forest University political scientist, John Dinan. “Now, that over-simplifies things, but, if you really wanted to get a handle on these probably most controversial amendments, they are about who do you have more faith in making some of these decisions, the governor or the legislature?”

The man who directed the work to put these amendments on the ballot – North Carolina Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger, from Eden – says those two amendments are part of the constant push and pull between the legislative and executive branches which he sees as generally healthy.

“I think it's also important that power be diffused and shared as much as possible because I think that helps as far as the people of this state are concerned with good government,” says Berger.

In previous years, the voter ID requirement caused the most stir, including lawsuits, but in a poll done by Elon University, the idea continues to prove to be popular.

“I was not surprised that in our survey, that voter ID was popular,” says Elon Poll Director Jason Husser. “We've polled on voter ID for several years, now, we've always found majority support for voter ID.”

“On the policy measure, this would not be unusual for North Carolina to adopt a voter ID requirement,” adds WFU’s Dinan. “It is unusual to put that in the state constitution. And the reason that's being put in the state constitution is to overcome a potential legal challenge that is state-based. But it wouldn’t insulate the state from a federal challenge.”

See a rundown of all six amendments in this You Decide report from FOX8's senior political reporter, Bob Buckley.