Defending Democracy, News

Marshall, Stein, Coble to meet on ballot language, summaries for constitutional amendments

As Policy Watch reporter Joe Killian reported two weeks ago, not all details of the six constitutional amendments that will appear on this November’s ballot have been finalized. The state Constitutional Amendments Publication Commission — a somewhat unlikely trio made up of Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, Attorney General Josh Stein and the General Assembly’s Legislative Services officer, Paul Coble — must meet to come up with captions for the ballot along with brief summaries. Today, Marshall released the following announcement about the Commission’s plans:

NC Constitutional Amendments Publication Commission to Meet July 31st
New website provides amendment information and how to send proposed summaries

Raleigh – The North Carolina Constitutional Amendments Publication Commission will meet on Tuesday, July 31st at 9:30 a.m. in Room 105 of Campbell Law School at 225 Hillsborough Street in Raleigh. The Commission will prepare official summaries and captions for six proposed amendments to the North Carolina Constitution that will be put before voters in the November 6, 2018 general election.

The six proposed amendments were created by the North Carolina General Assembly during its most recent session and concern board appointments, selecting judges, voter ID, crime victim protections, hunting and fishing, and the state income tax rate.

Secretary of State Elaine Marshall chairs the three-person Commission. The other members are NC Attorney General Josh Stein and the Legislative Services Officer of the NC General Assembly, Paul Coble. The Commission webpage has information about the six proposed amendments and provides instructions for members of the public who want to submit suggested text for the summaries for any of the proposed amendments. In order to be considered, suggested text submitted by the public must be received by 5 p.m., Wednesday, July 25.

Secretary of State Marshall thanked Campbell Law School for use of the School’s state-of-the-art auditorium for the meeting. “Six proposed amendments mean we have a lot of work to do as Commission members,” Secretary Marshall said. “This facility gives us the best infrastructure in the area for accomplishing our duties.”

Campbell Law School Dean J. Rich Leonard noted, “we are delighted that Campbell Law’s location in the heart of Raleigh gives us the opportunity to be the venue for critically important governmental activities.”

The Commission’s role is limited to preparing the captions and summaries for each of the proposed amendments in simple, commonly used language. Commission meetings are open to the public, but are not public hearings. The Commission does not open the floor for the public to speak, ask questions, or advocate in favor of or in opposition to proposed amendments.

The Commission was created in 1983 by N.C.G.S. § 147-54.8. In 2016, the law was amended to give the Commission the additional duty of preparing a short caption to go on the ballot reflecting the contents of the summary for each proposed amendment. Once approved by the Commission, the full summary of each proposed amendment, along with the captions, will be made available to the public and the media, and will be available to voters through county boards of election prior to the November election.

If it becomes necessary for the Commission to continue its meeting to a second day, then the group will meet on Wednesday, August 1st in Room 105 of Campbell Law School at 225 Hillsborough Street in Raleigh. The same location will be used on Thursday, August 2nd if the Commission needs to meet a third day.

Anyone wishing to send in written comments on paper instead of using the Commission’s website (the same deadline of 5 p.m., May 25 applies for receiving mailed comments) can send them to:

Mailing Address:
Attention: Constitutional Amendments Publication Commission
NC Department of the Secretary of State
PO Box 29622
Raleigh, NC 27626-0622

Street Address (for USPS express mail or other express delivery service):
Attention: Constitutional Amendments Publication Commission
NC Department of the Secretary of State
2 South Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC 27601-2903

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