County voters follow state lead in amendment votes

Published 8:00 pm Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Four amendments to the North Carolina Constitution proposed on this election’s ballot passed. Two of them failed.

North Carolina voters voted in favor of a requirement to present photo ID during in-person voting; the right to hunt and fish; expansion of crime victims’ rights and to cap the maximum state income tax at 7 percent, as opposed to the current 10 percent.

They voted against changes that would have shifted the power to make judicial appointments from the governor to the majority legislative party and a change to the state Board of Elections and Ethics that would remove a ninth, Independent, member, making the board a bi-partisan eight-member board of four Democrats and four Republicans.

The results were largely the same across the state, with few variations — including in Beaufort County. Beaufort County Board of Elections Director Kellie Harris Hopkins said she believes the two amendments that did not pass got a lot more press than others.

“I think they were advertised more and talked about more. Those two gained more of a spotlight. The governors — I think that had a lot to with it,” Hopkins said.

Hopkins referred to the unusual committee formed by five of North Carolina’s past governors, joining together to denounce what they believed was an attempted “power grab” by the then-supermajority Republican General Assembly. Republicans Jim Martin and Pat McCrory, and Democrats Mike Easley, Bev Perdue and Jim Hunt, along six former North Carolina Supreme County Justices, campaigned against the two amendments.

Statewide, 61.61 percent of voters (2,177, 747) voted against the Board of Elections and Ethics amendment. Beaufort County voters followed that trend with 59.93 percent (10,733) voting against. Only 11 counties in the state voted predominantly for the amendment, including six eastern North Carolina counties: Camden, Carteret, Chowan, Currituck, Gates and Perquimans.

Results were similar for the judicial appointments amendment, with 66.86 percent (2,363,093) of the state’s voters voting against. In Beaufort County, 64.61 percent of voters (11,540) voted against the amendment. Only seven counties in the state voted predominantly for the judicial appointments amendment, again including Camden, Currituck, Gates and Perquimans counties.

In Beaufort County, 66.59 percent of voters voted in favor of presenting photo ID when voting, exceeding the statewide percentage of 55.55 percent in favor. The 17 counties voting against the photo ID amendment were mostly those containing the larger metropolitan areas of the state: Buncombe (Asheville), Watauga (Boone), Mecklenburg (Charlotte), Forsyth (Winston-Salem) and Guilford (Greensboro), Chatham, Orange, Durham and Wake counties (Chapel Hill, Raleigh, Durham area). However, a block of eastern North Carolina counties voted against the amendment: Vance, Warren, Halifax, Northampton, Hertford, Bertie, Edgecombe and Washington counties.