Voters strike down NC constitutional amendments limiting governor’s power; 4 amendments pass

When North Carolina’s five living governors unanimously condemned two proposed constitutional amendments, the voters of North Carolina listened.

With 99.15 percent of precincts reporting by Wednesday morning, two of the six amendments on the 2018 midterm ballot failed.

Voters struck down the amendment that would change the way judicial vacancies are filled when they occur between elections and another that would change the way people are appointed to the state elections and ethics board.

“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?”

Voters made their opinions clear Tuesday night.

The judicial vacancy amendment failed 2,347,700 votes to 1,161,547, or 66.90 percent to 33.10 percent.

The state elections and ethics board appointment amendment failed 2,164,886 votes to 1,346,715, or 61.65 percent to 38.35 percent.

The man who directed the work to put these amendments on the ballot – North Carolina Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger, from Eden, who was also reelected Tuesday – had said those two amendments were 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.

The following four constitutional amendments passed.

  • Requiring a picture ID to vote in person, in the future.
    • Passed 2,015,849 to 1,615,482 (55.51 percent to 44.49)
  • Capping the state income tax rate at 7% (currently, it is 10%)
    • Passed 2,060,373 to 1,531,121 (57.37 percent to 42.63)
  • Strengthening victims’ rights.
    • Passed 2,228,296 to 1,359,496 (62.11 percent to 37.89)
  • Guaranteeing the right to hunt and fish.
    • Passed 2,048,235 to 1,537,100 (57.13 percent to 42.87)

In previous years, the voter ID requirement caused the most stir, including lawsuits, but in a poll done by Elon University before the election, the idea continued 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,” added 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.”