The Charlotte Metro Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (CLTMDSA) strongly opposes the six NC constitutional amendments slated for the November 2018 ballot. These amendments are unintelligible jargon, unreadable, and ultimately part of a concentrated GOP power grab to gerrymander and take powers away from other elected officials. We urge others in the Charlotte-Metro region to also vote against all six amendments. Read more about them below.
Amendment 1: Photo ID voting requirement
This will require voters to show photo ID before casting a ballot. Defenders of these laws claim that IDs reduce voter fraud; however considering in-person voter fraud is extremely rare, requiring voters to show identification is more of “a solution in search of a problem.” The reality is that these ID laws prevent many from exercising their right to vote and are discriminatory against the poor, racial minorities, and other vulnerable groups.1
Amendment 2: Create an eight-member bipartisan election board
Under current North Carolina law, the election board consists of nine members – four from the governor’s party, four from the other major party, and one independent – with the governor overseeing the board. This amendment will reduce the nine-member election board down to eight, all of which would be appointed by the general assembly thus taking power away from the governor.2 As the current governor is a Democrat, this amendment is simply a blatant power grab by the Republican- controlled legislature.
Amendment 3: Reduce the state income tax cap from 10% to 7%
As Democratic Socialists, we believe that people should pay their fair share and that if you have more, you should pay more in order to create a society that meets the needs of all. This amendment would cap the income tax at 7%, thus concentrating more wealth for the wealthy while putting more financial burden on lower-income earners and potentially cutting funds from needed services.
From the News & Observer: “A state’s revenue needs can vary unpredictably over time and income tax caps eliminate flexibility. If income taxes can’t be raised to meet needs, a state’s primary alternative is to raise sales taxes (and various usage fees). Sales taxes (and usage fees) impact poor people much more than they impact wealthy people: Poor people must spend most of their income, subjecting most of their income to sales tax, while wealthier people spend a much lower percentage of their income. Moreover, [this specific cap] locks in rates that are lower than recent historical rates and the new flat-rate tax structure shifts more of the income tax burden to lower earners. Other states such as Kansas that have lowered tax rates dramatically have had poor results. We are already seeing hints of the impact in N.C. with a precipitous drop in inflation-adjusted per student spending in public schools.”3
Amendment 4: Establish a merit system for filing judicial vacancies
This amendment is another attempted power grab by the NC GOP and shifts the power of who appoints judges between elections from the governor to the state legislature. Instead of the governor making appointments, anyone in the state may submit recommendations to the general assembly who will then provide the names of two NCGA-selected nominees to the governor. The governor will then have to select from between those two nominees who are not subject to gubernatorial veto. If a vacancy occurs right before an election, the chief justice of the N.C. Supreme Court is then tasked with the appointment instead of the governor.4
Amendment 5: Protect the right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife
There is no current threat to these activities in the state, and having this on the ballot is more so an attempt to get the GOP base to show up to the polls. Since the amendment refers to making these “preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife,”5 this also causes ecological concerns in that it could result in reduced protections for wildlife areas and habitats. It also defers hunting and fishing laws to the general assembly, which takes power away from local groups to establish regulations and create or maintain protected wildlife areas. Again, this is nothing more than another attempted power grab by the state legislature.
Amendment 6: Add rights for victims of felony crimes
As Democratic Socialists, we stand for the abolishment of prisons and the carceral state. This particular amendment is dangerous as it could result in even more people in prisons and with harsher sentencing. There are also risks that this could create even more bias against defendants facing trial.
Mark Rabil, law professor at Wake Forest University says, “Obviously everybody agrees victims should have rights, but the way I see the goal of Marsy’s Law is so much more than that................. The bottom line is
they’re giving victims and victims’ families constitutional party status that can override the constitutional rights of a defendant to a fair trial and the right of districts attorneys to pursue cases in ways they perceive to be fair.”6
On top of the fact that the criminal justice system already largely discriminates against vulnerable communities and racial minorities, this amendment is an open door to further exacerbate that discrimination and create even more disparity within our justice system.
CLTMDSA sees these amendments as disingenuous and not in the best interest of the people of North Carolina. Rather these efforts are to increase GOP control, consolidate power for the wealthy, and create more inequality for the most vulnerable in the state. Please join us in voting NO on all six in November.
1https://www.aclu.org/other/oppose-voter-id-legislation-fact-sheet 2 https://longleafpolitics.com/nc-constitutional-amendments-2018/
3https://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/op-ed/article214823780.html 4https://longleafpolitics.com/nc-constitutional-amendments-2018/ 5https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article216437935.html 6https://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/politics-government/article218118890.html