North Carolina voters helped to shape the state constitution last week, adopting four proposed amendments and striking down two others proposed by the North Carolina General Assembly.
The two proposed amendments that failed to pass on Election Day each inspired a good bit of controversy, with the state legislature aiming to limit the governor’s power over state appointments through both measures. Each of the state’s five living governors, Republicans and Democrats alike, spoke publicly in opposition of the amendments.
The first, an amendment that would have restructured the state elections board and limited the governor’s power to appoint its members, failed with over 2.1 million votes in opposition, which accounted for roughly 62 percent of all North Carolina ballots cast during the 2018 general election. This means that the elections board will remain in its current form, with nine members, all of which are appointed by the governor.
The other proposed amendment that failed would have given the state legislature the power to nominate two candidates for the governor to choose from when filling a judicial vacancy between election cycles. More than two-thirds of those North Carolinians who voted in this year’s election voted in opposition to the amendment, meaning the governor will continue to have autonomous power when filling those judicial vacancies.
There were two additional amendments that stirred up a bit of controversy that were approved by voters last week, meaning each will now become law.
The first, which is something that North Carolina Republicans have been working toward for years, requires voters to present photo identification upon arrival at the polls. The legislature will return to Raleigh this month to iron out the details of the new law while the Republican supermajority in both the House and Senate remains in-tact before the newly-elected legislators take office. Of the six proposed amendments on the 2018 ballot, this was the most contentious, winning approval with just over 55 percent of the 3.7 million votes cast in North Carolina.
The other amendment that drew the ire of some, but ultimately passed, will cap the state income tax at 7 percent rather than 10 percent, as had been the case previously. More than 2 million people voted in favor of capping the state income tax at 7 percent, accounting for roughly 57 percent of all those who voted. Currently, the state income tax rate in North Carolina sits at 5.499 percent.
There are two final amendments to the state constitution that passed without much controversy, both pertaining to the rights afforded to North Carolina residents. The first protects the right of the people to hunt, fish and harvest wildlife, establishing public hunting and fishing as a preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife, while the other strengthens protections afforded to victims of crime, establishing certain absolute basic rights for victims of crime. Both of those amendments passed with over 2 million votes in favor of each proposal.
The four changes to the state constitution that were approved by voters last week will go into effect on Nov. 27, when the state elections board confirms the results of the 2018 general election.