Politics & Government

Get ready: Ads for and against NC’s constitutional amendments will start soon

What are the 6 NC constitutional amendments placed on the fall ballot?

The NC legislature is placing six constitutional amendments on the fall ballot. Here's a look at what North Carolinians will be voting on.
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The NC legislature is placing six constitutional amendments on the fall ballot. Here's a look at what North Carolinians will be voting on.

The state NAACP, the ACLU and other nonprofits are organizing a campaign against the six proposed constitutional amendments , which they call “deceptive and dangerous.”

Organizers plan a formal announcement at a Monday press conference. The coalition calls itself By the People and is planning radio ads and a statewide question-and-answer tour that will kick off Monday in Mecklenburg County. The six proposed amendments will be on voters’ fall ballots.

“It’s clear the legislature meant to mislead voters with these amendments,” Melissa Price Kromm, director of North Carolina Voters for Clean Elections, said Friday. “By the People wants voters to understand the truth behind the amendments.”

Separately, a committee called Stop Deceptive Amendments has filed an organizational report with the State Board of Elections. That committee has filed to run ads on a WSOC-TV in Charlotte. Michael Weisel, a Raleigh lawyer involved in election law, is the committee treasurer. He could not be reached Friday.

Polls have shown significant public support for most of the amendments. Separate polls have also found that many don’t know much about the amendments.

A High Point University Poll this week reported that five of the six questions had support of 50 percent or more of those surveyed.

An Elon University poll found that most people don’t know much about the amendments, The News & Observer reported.

Backers of a constitutional amendment expanding victims’ rights plan a $5 million campaign to get it passed, the Associated Press reported.

The state Republican Party has endorsed all the amendments. The state Democratic Party is opposing all of them.

Gov. Roy Cooper sued over two and won an initial court victory, with a majority on a three-judge panel agreeing that two of the ballot questions could be misleading.

Republicans in the legislature responded by limiting the scope of one proposed change. Initially, Republicans wanted an amendment that would limit the governor’s ability to appoint members of the State Board of Elections, remake the board with eight members instead of nine, and take away the governor’s ability to appoint members to hundreds of state boards and commissions. The rewritten amendment keeps the elections board changes but drops the shift of other committee appointment powers from the governor to the legislature.

Cooper also tried to keep off the ballot an amendment that would limit the governors’ ability to appoint judges to fill vacancies and give the legislature a major role.

In response to the court ruling, the legislature eliminated language that opponents claimed would have allowed legislators to avoid vetoes by coupling unrelated legislation to judicial appointment bills. Voters will see a much longer explanation of the proposed constitutional change on their ballots.

Cooper’s court challenge against the rewritten amendment language and his attempt to keep the two questions off the ballot failed.

All five living former governors, Democrats and Republicans, oppose the two amendments.

"Don't hijack our constitution," said Pat McCrory at a gathering of all five of NC's living former governors at the old Capitol on Monday. The group convened to warn voters about constitutional amendments that would shift power to the legislature

The amendment on judicial vacancies had the weakest support in the High Point University poll, with 36 percent in favor, 32 percent opposed and 31 percent who didn’t know or didn’t answer.

The state NAACP and an environmental group sued over the board of elections and the judicial vacancy amendment and two more. They wanted an amendment requiring voters to show photo identification when they go to the polls and another that will cap the state income tax at 7 percent off the ballot. Their legal challenges failed.

Rev. T. Anthony Spearman, state NAACP president, will be featured in the By the People radio ads, Kromm said.

Election Day is Nov. 6 and early voting starts Oct. 17.

Bonner: 919-829-4821; @Lynn_Bonner