NC Sec. of State pushes back against GOP efforts to take over amendment writing

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ByJoel Brown via WTVD logo
Tuesday, July 24, 2018

RALEIGH, NC (WTVD) -- North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall is telling ABC11 she won't stop working to write the ballot questions for the proposed constitutional amendments -- despite Republican efforts to do it themselves.

"We're gonna keep going until somebody tells us we can't," Marshall said.

Harnett County State Rep. David Lewis, a Republican, pushed for Tuesday's special session during the weekend in a letter to House Speaker Tim Moore -- taking aim at Marshall's bi-partisan Constitutional Amendments Publication Commission.

In his letter, Lewis writes: "It appears that the commission may be falling to outside political pressure, contemplating politicizing the title-crafting process, including using long sentences or negative language in order to hurt the amendments' chances of passing."

Marshall pushed back hard against Lewis's claim

"I can speak for myself, I have had no, none outside pressure on this process," she said.

Of the six amendments on the ballot -- some are more hot-button than others -- like whether to remove some of the governor's powers of appointment and give it to the legislature; And requiring a photo ID to vote.

They are measures largely supported by Republicans. Marshall is a Democrat.

"The commission's job is not to advocate for passage or rejection, the committee's job is to explain in simple and commonly-used language what the amendments mean," Marshall said. "There's no intention and there's never been any history of doing long and confusing sentences."

Speaker Moore's office did not respond Monday night to our request for an interview about the claims of "outside political pressure" on the commission. The NCGOP declined to weigh in as well, calling it "a legislative matter."

State Democrats are fuming.

"These constitutional amendments from the beginning have been politicized," said NC Democratic spokesperson Robert Howard. "This is an election-year ploy for Republicans to bring voters to the polls and for Republicans to lock in some of the power that they know they're gonna lose in November."

The House and Senate convene at noon Tuesday for this unusual special session.

Meantime, Marshall's committee continues to work on its own wording for the ballot questions.

The state board of elections has a hard deadline of August 8th to get whichever wording the state chooses on the ballot in time for Election Day.