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Judicial Elections, Constitutional Amendments You'll See On The November Ballot

Jess Clark / WUNC
North Carolina Supreme Court Building

North Carolina voters will get the chance to elect justices to the state Supreme Court and Court of Appeals. North Carolinians will also be asked if they’re “for or against” six proposed amendments to the state Constitution.

North Carolina Judicial Elections:

Detailed information on the judicial candidates can be found on the state board of elections website here.

State Supreme Court: Voters will choose one candidate.

  • Democrat: Anita Earls
  • Republican: Barbara Jackson
  • Republican: Christopher Anglin

N.C. Court of Appeals, Seat 1: Voters will choose one candidate.

  • Democrat: John S. Arrowood
  • Republican: Andrew T. Heath

N.C. Court of Appeals, Seat 2

  • Democrat: Tobias Hapson
  • Republican: Jefferson G. Griffin
  • Republican: Sandra Alice Ray

N.C. Court of Appeals, Seat 3:

  • Democrat: Allegra Katherine Collins
  • Republican: Chuck Kitchen
  • Libertarian: Michael Monaco, Sr.

Proposed Amendments to the North Carolina Constitution:

On the November ballot, voters will be asked to mark if they’re for or against six proposed changes to the state constitution. All of the proposed amendments were written by the Republican-led General Assembly. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, along with the North Carolina branch of the NAACP, sued twice to try and keep four of the six amendments off the ballot, arguing that two of the questions were misleading to voters and took too much power from the state executive branch. Both of the lawsuits were denied by the state Supreme Court.

What you’ll see on the ballot:

“Constitutional amendment protecting the right of the people to hunt and fish”

This change preserves North Carolinians’ right to “hunt, fish and harvest wildlife” using unspecified “traditional methods” that would subject to future laws passed by the General Assembly. The amendment mainly codifies this right as the “preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife.” Read the full amendment here.

What you’ll see on the ballot:

“Constitutional amendment to strengthen protections for victims of crime; to establish certain absolute basic rights for victims; and to ensure the enforcement of these rights:”

This amendment expands the right of victims guaranteed under the state constitution. It extends rights to include the right to be present at any proceeding upon request and information about the crime upon request. It also ensures victims are “treated with dignity and respect” and are “reasonably heard” at additional kinds of court hearings.

Current state law extends such rights to victims of most serious crimes, including major felonies and certain kinds of domestic abuse. This amendment would extend these rights to include all crimes against the person and felony property crimes. The state legislature also estimated the cost of these changes to the judicial system to be $11 million per year. Read the full amendment here.

What you’ll see on the ballot:

“Constitutional amendment to reduce the income tax rate in North Carolina to a maximum allowable rate of seven percent (7%).”

The current maximum personal and corporate income tax rate is 10 percent. This proposed change would lower the cap to 7 percent. This change would not affect current income taxes for voters — as the personal rate is 5.499 percent for individuals and 3 percent for corporations. It would only limit the amount the rate could go up.        

This amendment only addresses state income taxes, not sales taxes, federal taxes or property taxes. Read the full amendment here.

What you’ll see on the ballot:

“Constitutional amendment to require voters to provide photo identification before voting in person.”

This amendment would require voters to show photo identification to poll-workers when voting in-person at precincts. The General Assembly would be in charge of making laws to determine the acceptable forms of identification and could establish exceptions to the voter ID law. Read the full amendment here.

What you’ll see on the ballot:

“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.”

This proposed change would change the process of filling judicial vacancies by shifting the main appointment power from the Governor to the legislature. In the current process, the governor has the authority to select a replacement judge without legislature input.

The amendment would give the General Assembly the power to choose finalists reviewed by a commission that determines if they are qualified. The Governor would have to choose the judge from the finalists recommended by the legislature.

The amendment would also lengthen the amount of time the judges approved by the legislature and appointed by the governor would serve, limiting the voters’ rights to elect judges. Under the current process, the judge appointed by the governor only serves until the next election — then the vacancy goes before the voters. Under the proposed amendment, the appointed judges would serve up to four years before voters elect them. Read the full amendment here.

What you’ll see on the ballot:

“Constitutional amendment to establish an eight-member Bipartisan Board of Ethics and Elections Enforcement in the Constitution to administer ethics and elections law.”

This amendment would downsize the current State Board of Ethics and Elections Enforcement from nine members to eight, and would shift appointment power from the governor to the legislature. The General Assembly attempted to pass a law to make this change in 2017, but the law was struck down in the state Supreme Court. This amendment would overturn that ruling by presenting the question to voters.

If the amendment passes, it would force the governor to appoint members to the board from a group of finalists approved by the legislature. Taking away the ninth board member could mean future 4-4 deadlocks on decisions that fall on partisan lines. Such deadlocks could affect and possibly restrict early voting opportunities.

Cooper and the NAACP sued to stop this question from being presented to voters, arguing that the ballot wording was too vague and was misleading to voters. A panel of judges ruled that the question had to be re-written, but Cooper still argues that the final wording is “false, misleading” and takes power away from the governor.

The board’s responsibilities include enforcing election laws concerning campaign finance, lobbying and early voting, among other things. Read the full amendment here.

Return to the 2018 Midterm Voter Guide here.

Jessa O’Connor was an assistant digital news editor and Sunday reporter for WFAE.