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What questions remain after the 2018 midterm elections?

orange county dems
Sally Greene, the democratic candidate for Board of Commissioners, looks on to voting updates at Orange County's Democratic Party's election party at Might as Well in Chapel Hill.

The midterms on Tuesday saw the re-election of many incumbents to the U.S. House of Representatives and N.C. General Assembly. Though this may not come as a surprise to many, there is still some uncertainty surrounding the results.

The state voted in favor of four North Carolina constitutional amendments, including greater protection for crime victims, a voter ID requirement, a lower income tax cap and the establishment of a constitutional right to fish and hunt. 

Two amendments were voted against, one concerning the creation of an eight-member bipartisan Board of Ethics and Elections Enforcement and another allowing the state legislature to appoint in the case of judicial vacancies. 

Skylar Teague, director of outreach for UNC College Republicans, said there’s been a sharp split in how the amendments were perceived by each political party. 

“I’ve been quite amazed — the Republicans (were) saying vote for all six, the Democrats nix all six,”  Teague said. 

Both of the rejected amendments threatened to take power away from the governor in favor of the state legislature. The proposed amendment to create a judicial vacancy commission faced particularly strong opposition from voters, with nearly 66.9 percent voting against it. 

Teague said he disliked the idea of giving lawmakers a dominant role in filling judicial vacancies. 

“I think a lot of Republicans are worried about that tearing apart separation of powers,” he said. 

Of the four amendments approved by the state's voters, each differed in popularity, garnering anywhere from 55.6 percent to 62.1 percent approval. The expansion of constitutional rights for crime victims was the most popular amendment proposed. 

Wake County resident and Republican politician Sue Googe said she placed a particular importance on the passing of the amendment regarding voter ID. 

“I feel very strongly that we need to have voter ID because voting is a privilege, and to have someone have the opportunity to cheat on an election, I think that is an insult and an assault on democracy, and we need to keep that in mind," Googe said.

Familiar names seemingly dominated the North Carolina midterms across all districts, leaving few surprises or upsets. A total 12 out of 13 U.S. House Representatives regained their seat as incumbents. The candidate who was unable to regain a seat in the U.S. House, former Rep. Robert Pittenger, was defeated in the primary elections. 

Of the three Democratic representatives who won, each received at least 69 percent of the votes for their respective district. Of the nine Republican representatives who won competitive races, each held a margin of victory ranging from 49 to 59 percent in their respective districts. 

Victoria Freeman, first vice chairperson of Orange County Democrats, said the election results showed an increase in overall voter participation, something her organization had worked toward. 

“I was hoping there would be more turnover, I wouldn’t say there were a lot of surprises,” she said. “Actually, I think the thing that was not so much the most surprising but the most satisfying was the voter turnout — that voters were engaged." 

Freeman emphasized that though the election results in individual districts were somewhat expected, the number of those who voted surpassed recent years.

“I wouldn’t say that I’m satisfied, but I’m encouraged,” Freeman said.

The looming question now is about how the General Assembly will enact the amendments that passed.

"I think it's the matter of how they will be written by the legislature," Freeman said.

The amendments did not fully lay out specific policies, and several terms within the ballot language were undefined.

"They were very vague and so what the legislature does to flesh them out is going to be very important, particularly the voter ID bill," she said. "I would hope that they put an emphasis on making voting easier rather than harder — particularly for young people and for older people."

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The General Assembly reconvenes Nov. 27.