The Daily Tar Heel

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Friday September 24th

Orange County broke with most of N.C. and voted against all amendments. What's next?

A woman looks on to voting updates at Orange County's Democratic Party's election party at Might as Well in Chapel Hill.
Buy Photos A woman looks on to voting updates at Orange County's Democratic Party's election party at Might as Well in Chapel Hill.

On Nov. 6, Carolinians voted on six constitutional amendments in the midterm elections. When the votes were counted, four out of the six amendments had been passed.  Orange County, unlike most counties throughout North Carolina, voted against all six amendments. 

The new amendments deal with fishing and hunting rights, protection to victims of crime, the state income tax cap and the requirement of photo ID for voter registration.

The amendments that were voted against included reform to the judiciary vacancy appointments process and the removal of a ninth non-partisan member on the State Board of Elections and Ethics, also giving the legislature the power to appoint the eight members of the BOE.

Prior to campaigning, both the Democratic and Republican parties had opposing views on the Constitutional amendments. While the Democrats advocated for voting down all six amendments with the “Nix All Six” slogan, the Republicans encouraged voters to vote for all the amendments.

Leah Byers, a policy analyst for the Civitas Institute, said the result for Orange County was unsurprising, given the voter demographics of the county.

“In Orange County, specifically, 46 percent of voters are registered Democrat, and the next largest voting block are unaffiliated with 39 percent, with the Republicans having another 14 percent of votes in the county," she said.

Byers said the results in Orange County exemplified the rural-urban divide, with rural areas typically containing more Republican voters and the urban areas having more Democrat voters. 

The state split on the amendments indicates a lack of any clear agenda, she said.

Byers believed some of the amendments, particularly the two concerning judicial vacancy and ethics and the election board, had more to do with the separation of powers.

Jennifer Rudolph, a co-founder of Stronger North Carolina, the organization that started the "Nix All Six" campaign, said the vagueness in the phrasing of the amendments led to splitting of the ticket and that court challenges to the amendments, shortly before they were added to the ballot led to increased confusion amongst voters. 

“Given more time for voters across the state to learn about the detrimental effects of each of the amendments, it is likely more of them would have failed,” Rudolph said in an email to The Daily Tar Heel. 

Rudolph said the next steps following the election were about seizing the opportunity for voters to work together. She encouraged voters “for” and “against” the amendments to cautiously proceed and pay attention to the use of language used by the legislation without nonpartisan approval.

She said she hopes the General Assembly will not rush to pass legislation on the enforcement of the amendments.

"In order to avoid a repeat of years of court challenges and millions of wasted taxpayer money it is imperative that due process prevails," she said. "That means not allowing a supermajority which was elected through their own unconstitutional maps the freedom to rush through such important legislation."

While the “Nix All Six” agenda did not succeed, Rudolph believed there were positives following the result.

“The voting population in North Carolina appears to be more engaged than ever, highlighted by a record turnout for these midterms, especially among young voters,” Rudolph said.

She was also optimistic that the trend would be seen across all demographics. She said she looked forward to increased voter awareness and education, on topics that matter.

@ares_z19

city@dailytarheel.com

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