When you go the polls Nov. 6, you will face questions about six constitutional amendments. You likely have read the many arguments about these amendments, including the process through which they are drafted, the creation of the wording used for your review in the voting booth and challenges to the intent and wording by Gov. Roy Cooper and others.
As of Tuesday, all impediments to your voting on these amendments have been cleared. The N.C. Supreme Court ruled against Cooper and the NAACP and directed elections officials to complete the ballot. Mail voting is supposed to start next week, early voting in about three weeks.
The topics you see on the ballot may not be clear when you stand in the booth, but here is what is at stake for you: The legislators will take power from the executive branch for themselves (appointments to board of elections and ethics and mid-term judicial vacancies); will create an opportunity to disenfranchise voters (framework for a voter ID law); will limit the state’s ability to address future financial crises (by lowering the cap on income tax); will create more protections for the victims of crimes; and, for serendipity, will ensure that you can hunt and fish.
None of these is a good idea as presented. None rises to the level of requiring constitutional protection. Pitching these ideas to you is bad governing at least and the rawest political power play you can imagine at most. Legislators are counting on you just to say yes.
Consider this wording of one of the amendments:
“[ ] FOR [ ] AGAINST Constitutional amendment to change the process for filling judicial vacancies that occur between judicial elections from a process in which the Governor has sole appointment power to a process in which the people of the State nominate individuals to fill vacancies by way of a commission comprised of appointees made by the judicial, executive, and legislative branches charged with making recommendations to the legislature as to which nominees are deemed qualified; then the legislature will recommend at least two nominees to the Governor via legislative action not subject to gubernatorial veto; and the Governor will appoint judges from among these nominees.”
Understand that? Is that the way you want your state to be governed? Such vagaries should not change your constitution.
And there is this question: Why does the General Assembly want to take on all this extra work? Are its leaders hankering to have a full-time body, as in Michigan? Are its members prepared to leave behind their “careers” to attend extra meetings required to vet and approve vacancies on commissions and boards? Do any of them really care?
Our General Assembly has acted with so little concern for transparency and full representation that any future decisions probably won’t require much process. Retiring state Rep. John Blust (R-Greensboro) derided his colleagues as being controlled by a small group of the powerful. Wouldn’t it stand to reason that every appointment now will be the product of a few rather than everyone?
These amendments were drafted in the dark, presented under a deadline, removed from full-throated debate, shoved on the ballot for you to consider. Why? Because their passage cedes to the legislature tools to execute more self-serving judgments without input from your representative.
The only way to check this power play is for you to reject them all.