In addition to Marsy’s Law, there are five other proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot this year. Legislators have not enacted language guiding how these amendments would be put into effect or released estimated costs associated with their passage. Here’s what we know about each measure—and what we don’t.
Right to Hunt and Fish
This amendment would enshrine in the state constitution “a right, including the right to use traditional methods, to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife.” The amendment doesn’t define “traditional methods.” or change existing laws. Opponents believe it’s an attempt to drive conservatives to the polls by suggesting their hunting and fishing rights are under attack when they aren’t. They also worry this amendment could be used to circumvent environmental protections.
State Income Tax Cap
Currently, personal and corporate income tax rates cannot exceed 10 percent. This amendment would lower that cap to 7 percent. To be clear, this is not a tax cut—the individual income tax rate is currently 5.49 percent and the corporate rate is 3 percent—but opponents say it would prevent the state from raising taxes in the future to pay for things like public education and disaster response.
Require Photo ID to Vote
A federal court in 2016 struck down North Carolina’s previous voter ID law, finding that it targeted African American voters. This amendment resurrects the requirement that voters present a photo ID, but legislators won’t decide what IDs would be accepted until after votes are cast. (Implementing legislation would likely be approved in a lame-duck session soon after the election.) Proponents say the measure is necessary to prevent voter fraud, but that doesn’t appear to be a real threat: A state audit of the 2016 election found just two cases of impersonation out of 4.8 million votes cast, and only one in which voter ID would have stopped a fraudulent voter. Thirty-four states have some version of a voter ID law, but just two have them in their constitutions. Studies show people of color disproportionately lack IDs, and opponents say securing one would be a barrier for low-income voters and rural voters who live farther from a DMV office.
Currently, the state constitution gives the governor authority to fill judicial vacancies by appointment. Legislators say this amendment would create a system “in which the people of the State nominate individuals to fill vacancies,” but really it just inserts legislators into the process. A commission—whose members would be selected by the governor, the General Assembly, and the N.C. Supreme Court’s chief equally—would recommend candidates to the General Assembly. Legislators would then give the governor a list of nominees to choose from, and if the governor doesn’t pick one of those people in ten days, the legislature would fill the vacancy. The governor couldn’t veto a nominee. This process would apply to seats on the state Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, and local trial courts. All five living former governors—Republicans and Democrats—as well as six former state Supreme Court justices have come out against this amendment.
State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement
This amendment would reduce the number of members on the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement from nine to eight. Currently there are four Democratic and four Republican members each. The ninth is unaffiliated and is nominated by the other eight, with the governor making the appointment. Republicans say the proposed model still gives both parties input and would require the board to come to a consensus. Opponents say it would disenfranchise unaffiliated voters and guarantee gridlock. Like the judicial appointments amendment, this is opposed by former governors and justices alike.
Visit the NC Constitutional Amendments Publication Commission for more information. Contact staff writer Sarah Willets by email at email@example.com, by phone at 919-286-1972, or on Twitter @Sarah_Willets.