News: Quick Takes

Civitas flash poll shows voters support several constitutional amendments

SurveyUSA, along with the Civitas Institute, a nonprofit conservative public policy organization, released findings from a flash poll showing a majority of voters support several constitutional amendments proposed this year.

The poll was conducted between June 9-12 and surveyed 650 adults, 541 of whom are registered voters. The margin of error is plus or minus 5.2 percent.

Eighteen amendments to the state constitution were proposed during the 2017 legislative session and a voter ID measure was introduced last week. The amendments cover a range of issues from tax rates to hunting licenses.

Civitas chose five amendments to poll.

Senate Bill 75 proposes to cap the income tax rate, now 5.25 percent, at 5.5 percent. The current constitutional cap is 10 percent. Of the registered voters surveyed, 66 percent support this amendment, 13 percent oppose it, and 21 percent aren’t sure either way.

Senate Bill 677 would protect citizens’ right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife. Seventy-two percent of voters support this addition to the state constitution. Twelve percent oppose the amendment and 16 percent are unsure.

House Bill 727 would limit the annual growth of the state budget to a percentage equal to the sum of annual inflation and the state’s annual population growth rate. This proposed amendment received the least amount of voter support at 49 percent. Fourteen percent opposed it and 34 percent are unsure.

House Bill 819 and Senate Bill 632 would clarify that the right to live includes the right to work, and that a person’s ability to work couldn’t be denied if they refused to join a union. This amendment got 76 percent support, with 14 percent opposed, and 10 percent not sure.

The most controversial proposed amendment, House Bill 1092, would require photo identification to vote in North Carolina elections. Sixty-nine percent of voters support the voter ID amendment, while 24 percent oppose it, and 7 percent are unsure.

The most recent law requiring voter ID in North Carolina was rejected by a federal appeals court.

“The preamble of the North Carolina Constitution states that its purpose is to preserve the liberties of North Carolinians,” Civitas President Donald Bryson said. “In that tradition, North Carolinians appear to show support for these amendments — including preserving the legitimacy of North Carolina elections by requiring identification at the ballot box.”

Support for the amendments split along party lines, with Republicans more likely than Democrats to agree with the proposed changes to the state constitution. However, the right to work amendment had the most bipartisan support with 79 percent of Republicans and 76 percent of Democrats supporting the bill.

The largest partisan split was among support for the voter ID amendment. Ninety-two percent of Republicans support the ID requirement compared to only 45 percent of Democrats. Voters in rural areas were also more likely to support the change with 80 percent in support, while only 57 percent of urban residents back it.