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You plan to vote this election season, more and more of you are saying, a remarkable concept for an off-year election in North Carolina, when Congress tops the ballot. You either have a candidate you like a lot or seek to address the values you are seeing emerge across our political spectrum — either to reinforce them or to reverse them.
But one reason some of you are voting and how you might vote in that area are matters of concern.
A News & Record/High Point University Poll released Thursday noted that about 62 percent of you said you were likely to vote because of six constitutional amendments on the ballot.
That is a concept Republican lawmakers hoped would play out when they drafted them in the final days of the summer’s legislative session. We specify Republican because few Democrats have supported these amendments.
So it’s unfortunate that only one in five of you polled by HPU then said you had heard very much about these amendments. As low as that percentage is, it’s remarkably higher than a similar poll conducted about a month ago by Elon University.
That brings us to this essential point: Will you have any idea what these amendments say, how they might be enacted and whether they are a good idea for our constitution and — more importantly — you?
Because beyond any name, these six choices likely will have a far greater impact on your life and the well-being of the state. Is it possible you will hopscotch down the ballot, checking yes or no, or even leave some amendments blank if you are unfamiliar with what they will do?
Let’s look at what you told HPU about how you will vote and what that might mean:
About two out of three of you say you would support a voter ID law.
What is the legislature’s plan for this ID that is more fair and equitable than those the courts have struck down in recent years?
More than six out of 10 like the idea of reducing the state’s maximum income tax.
Should the constitution engrave a rate that may need periodic review because of economic pendulums?
Almost eight out of 10 support strengthening protections for crime victims, the Marsy’s Law.
Does this mean you approve of a shift in the foundational presumption of innocent-until-proven-guilty?
About half of you want to approve an eight-member Bipartisan Board of Ethics and Elections Enforcement.
Did you know this would move power from executive branch to the legislative by establishing lawmakers as tiebreakers?
About 36 percent support changing the way vacant judgeships are filled.
But did you know that the legislature is siphoning power from the executive and judicial branches and lessening that constitutional balance?
And, yes, two out of three of you support putting a right to hunt and fish in the constitution.
Is there a problem here?
One other thing you might want to know: How will the General Assembly implement any laws you approve? There is no answer for that.
Let’s be clear about one overriding issue: Taking up these items as constitutional amendments is bad governing. They don’t meet the arduous standards for being part of the document that shapes our government. A constitution doesn’t include laws, but structures and principles.
These are ideas that should be debated as legislation, not foisted on you as doctrine you may not embrace and maybe haven’t even read. But if you have, if you are in the know, you should vote no.