Now that we know what this fall’s ballot will look like — i.e. cluttered with a passel of unnumbered, confusing and ill-conceived amendments to the North Carolina constitution — there is a simple path for caring and thinking people: vote “no” on all six.
As was explained in this column six weeks ago:
“The arguments in favor of a resounding, across-the-board “no” are powerful and plentiful. Topping the list is the disingenuous and misleading way lawmakers crafted the proposals.”
Yes, it’s true that the General Assembly effected a hurried last minute rewrite of two of the amendments that would seize power from the governor in an effort to make them somewhat less blatant and outrageous. But there is still no disguising what these proposals are about or how destructive they will be. As a lead editorial in the Wilmington Star News put it over the weekend:
“So, our Honorables pulled themselves into special session yet again and gave the descriptions a makeover. The revised versions are less odious than the originals, but still bad.
In regards to the courts, one amendment would set up a complex network with a “Nonpartisan Judicial Merit Commission” and several local merit boards to come up with nominees. In the end, however, for any vacancy, the governor could only pick from a list of two candidates — both chosen by the legislature.
The other amendment left most of the governor’s appointment powers intact — except for the state ethics and elections board. Here, the governor would have to choose from a list again — this one drawn up by the party leaders in the legislature.
Moreover, the amendment would reduce the board to eight members, effectively four Democrats and four Republicans. (Currently, the board has nine members, the ninth required to be unaffiliated with any party.)
Since those board members would be nominated by legislative honchos, it’s safe to say they’d be fierce and loyal partisans. Which means that almost any vexing political question before the “reformed” board would result in a 4-4 split.
Which means that the results of any closely contested election would almost certainly wind up in the courts. Which (if the other amendment passes) would be staffed by loyal members of the majority party in the legislature.
Cooper is right; this is still a bald, partisan power play that would weaken state government, leaving it more venal and more vulnerable to corruption. Regardless of which party holds the executive office, we need to preserve a legitimate balance of power in state government. That is why Republican former governors — including Pat McCrory, who’s not exactly a big fan of the current governor — spoke out.
If these two amendments ever do make it to the ballot, voters should reject them outright.”
And that goes for the other four as well.