New poll shows just how little North Carolinians know about what they’ll be voting on

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If North Carolinians are even aware that they’ll have the chance to vote on changes to the state constitution this November, there’s a good chance they’ll still be confused about what they’re being asked to approve.

A new poll from Elon University asked registered voters around the state about the six proposed constitutional amendments that will be on the ballot this year. The result: Most people don’t know much about the amendments, and in some cases people think the amendments would have the opposite effect of what they would really do.

“It seems to me that a lot of voters are going to be making a permanent decision that could impact North Carolina for decades to come, based on pretty limited information,” said Jason Husser, the director of the Elon Poll.

While a small majority of the voters polled did know that there will be constitutional amendments on the ballot this November, almost none claimed to know “a lot” about what the amendments will do if they pass.

Although 89 percent said they plan to vote in November, just 56 percent knew there will be amendments on the ballot — and only 8 percent said they’ve heard a lot about what the amendments would do.

John Dinan, a Wake Forest University political professor who is an expert on state-level constitutional amendments, said the results aren’t surprising.

“It’s normal for there to be a lot of undecided voters, at least at the beginning of the campaign,” he said. “That means there’s also a lot of opportunities to educate voters.”

Voters go to the polls on Nov. 6.

Amendments on the ballot

For those who would like more information, here’s a brief recap of the six amendments:

Voter ID: Create a requirement to show a photo ID to vote. The exact details are a mystery, however, since the General Assembly has not yet written the actual law that would be enacted if this amendment passes. North Carolina’s last attempt to create a voter ID law was ruled unconstitutional in 2016.

Income tax cap: The state’s current income tax rate is 5.499 percent, and that won’t change no matter what happens with this amendment. Instead, the amendment would lower the maximum possible rate that state income taxes could be raised to in the future, from 10 percent to 7 percent.

Changes to elections board: The board has four Democrats, four Republicans and one politically unaffiliated person. This amendment would remove the ninth — and potentially tiebreaking — vote and leave the board equally split with eight members. It would also transfer power to pick board members from the governor to the legislature.

Changes to judicial appointments: When judges die, quit or retire, the governor appoints a new person to take over until the next election. This amendment would take that power away. In some cases it would be up to the chief justice of the state Supreme Court, and in other cases the amendment would require the governor to select an appointee from a list provided by the state legislature.

Hunting and fishing: This amendment is broadly worded to re-affirm the rights of people to hunt and fish. It’s not entirely clear if it would make any actual changes to North Carolina law.

Marsy’s Law: This amendment would give additional rights to crime victims and is part of a national push to do so.

All six amendments were written by the Republican-controlled General Assembly, and the North Carolina GOP is asking people to vote in favor of all six. Meanwhile, the N.C. Democratic Party is asking people to vote against all six.

Dinan, however, said it’s possible that in November voters will approve some and deny others. While North Carolina does not have a history of frequently amending its constitution, he said, there are lessons to be learned from other states that do.

“Voters have been known to make distinctions,” he said. “We have states that have six amendments on the ballot on a regular basis, and voters will say ‘Yes’ to these four and ‘No’ to these two.”

For North Carolina Democrats in 2018, some amendments are more controversial than others.

No one challenged the hunting amendment or the victims’ rights amendment in court, and in the General Assembly both passed with support from Democrats as well as Republicans.

On the other hand, the amendments changing the board of elections and judicial appointments amendments drew a lawsuit from Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. And the amendments about voter ID and the income tax cap drew a lawsuit from the NAACP and environmental groups. However, both Cooper and the NAACP were handed losses on Tuesday by the N.C. Supreme Court.

By Will Doran/nando
Posted by The NON-Conformist
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NC Amendment would put voter ID in NC constitution

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Our dear General Assembly leaders(see below) here in North Carolina haven’t given up on voter ID, they recently filed a proposed constitutional amendment to ensconce a voter ID rule in the state constitution…Libergirl.

 

Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, left, and House Speaker Tim Moore during a May15, 2018, news conference.

Image: WRAL.com

The bill would ask voters to decide this November whether to add this paragraph to the constitution: “Photo identification for voting in person. Every person offering to vote in person shall present photo identification before voting in the manner prescribed by law.”

Republicans have championed photo IDs as the best defense against voter fraud, but Meredith College political science professor David McLennan said instances of in-person voter fraud are “very minimal.”

“It is not a widespread issue, despite what politicians say,” McLennan said.

More from WRAL.com

Posted by Libergirl

GOP State Rep. Accused of Raping 17-Year-Old Sings Hymn Before Declaring: ‘No Reason I Would Resign’

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It seems like every day a new media or political figure is accused of having committed some form of a sex crime. Oh wait, it is every day, sometimes multiple times in one day. Yipes.

Today’s contender in the “worst male in the world” contest is Kentucky Rep. Dan Johnson, who has been accused of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old girl at a New Year’s Eve party while he was acting as her preacher.

More from Mediate

Posted by Libergirl

 

GOP-drawn districts not much better than before

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As he does so often, Bob Phillips, head of Common Cause in North Carolina, had it exactly right with his comments on some pitiful, harshly partisan legislative districts as redrawn by Republican lawmakers, or rather by their hired consultant.

Made necessary by federal court rulings that found some of their 2011 districts to be racially gerrymandered, the new maps – likely in a drawer for some months while the court cases played out – continue to skew districts toward Republicans. That was entirely expected, since the rules for new maps the GOP leaders made for themselves allowed partisan consideration and voting patterns to be used in the new districts. Phillips, long an advocate of nonpartisan redistricting – done after every 10-year census – said GOP lawmakers blew a “golden opportunity to adopt fair, nonpartisan standards” for districts. Instead, he found “partisanship at the core,” and that’s right.

Making things worse is that by calculation, GOP leaders have offered the public a very limited amount of time to comment and offer input on the maps. In reality, of course, Republicans couldn’t care less about what the public thinks, which is the point of not allowing them time to offer their own opinions. If they did, they’d likely state the obvious: Why not form a nonpartisan redistricting commission to draw new maps and avoid what has been a huge public expense as Republicans have tried to defend the indefensible in federal court, to no avail?

Now, of course, Republicans are taking a chance that their maps will again be found to be gerrymandered in the extreme by the courts, at which point the courts would come in and draw the maps.
This story has been like the maps themselves – twists and turns and misdirection and confusion that do no favors for the fair democratic process in which people should vote for their representatives based on geographical good sense and competing ideas, not on ridiculously-drawn districts designed to give Republicans an advantage in keeping control of the General Assembly. If Republicans believe so strongly in their ideas, they should not fear a fair competition. But they do.

BY THE EDITORIAL BOARD/News&Observer
Posted by The NON-Conformist

NC Budget cuts legal aid for poor, but no explanation given….what the hell…just Because… we can do whatever we want b/c we are in CONTROL!!!!

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Legislators took a bite this past session out of taxpayer funding for poor people caught up in the courts system, and it’s unclear why.

The heads of the three agencies that used this money – and a much larger pot of threatened federal funding – to handle thousands of child custody cases, landlord/tenant disputes and other civil matters said they received no notice for the cut and that they’ve gotten no explanation in the ensuing month.

“We were totally blindsided,” said Kenneth Schorr, executive director at Legal Services of Southern Piedmont. “There was no communication this was on the table.”

The cut materialized in the House. Legislative staff there referred WRAL News to Speaker

Tim Moore’s office for an explanation, but his spokesman said Moore would not comment on the matter.

The four co-chairmen of the House’s Justice and Public Safety Appropriations Committee did not respond to WRAL News requests for comment. The only possible explanations Schorr and similar agency heads have heard came third-hand or worse and may be little more than speculation.

“All we’ve gotten is rumor,” said George R. Hausen Jr., president and executive director of Legal Aid of North Carolina, the largest of three attorney groups that get state money for this work.

The lack of communication fits a pattern, as other questions on unrelated budget cuts during and after the legislative session also were met with silence.

More from WRAL.com

Posted by Libergirl

 

Is North Carolina stuck in an abusive relationship?

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Behavior of state leaders, state policy community raise warning flags

Image: NC Policy Watch

The last seven years in North Carolina politics and policy have been extraordinary. In a very short period of time, a once moderate state has been transformed into a kind of laboratory for far right policies and a testing ground for what we are coming to know now as Trumpism. On issue after issue, state legislative leaders have aggressively pursued an ultra-conservative agenda that seeks to radically remake the state’s social contract.

What’s more, this has not been a happy or buoyant transformation. Rather than being predicated on a positive or hopeful new vision of society, the conservative revolution in North Carolina has mostly been a counter-revolution. Even today, a point at which they enjoy veto-proof majorities and can realistically contemplate an entire decade in power, conservative legislative leaders premise most of their actions and policies more on an angry rejection of past supposed transgressions by Democrats than a coherent articulation of what they want to build.

More from NC Policy Watch

Posted by Libergirl

NC’s Final budget delivers hits to legal services, emergency judges, Department of Justice

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It’s only been a little over 24 hours since the North Carolina General Assembly introduced its final budget and its already well on its way to a House vote after passing the Senate on Tuesday.

There is plenty to read in the 438-page document and plenty to get confused about. Below are a few highlights from the Justice and Public Safety budget:

Raise the Age

Lawmakers have finally agreed to raise the juvenile age of prosecution from 16 and 17 years old to 18 years old. The final budget allocates $519,600 the first fiscal year toward “Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act Planning” and $478,000 the second fiscal year.

The budget policy decision mandates that 16- and 17-year-olds who are accused of committing misdemeanors and two classes of felonies no longer be automatically prosecuted in the adult criminal system.

The policy decision also increases the information available on juveniles to law enforcement and establishes a juvenile jurisdiction advisory committee to help with implementation. You can read more about the decision beginning on page 309 of the budget.

The proposed budget would cut $1.7 million in legal services programs across the state, affecting those most in need and almost assuredly creating unequal access to justice.

The Access to Civil Justice Act funds all traditional legal services programs, including Legal Aid Legal Aid of North Carolina (LANC), Legal Services of Southern Piedmont and Pisgah Legal Services.

As written in the final budget, the provision means that $1.50 of every court fee imposed in District and Superior Courts would no longer be distributed to the North Carolina State Bar for legal services. It could also mean reducing LANC staff across the state by 50 to 60 or more positions.

More from NC Policy Watch

Posted by Libergirl

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