NC voters to decide on citizen-only voting amendment in November

By Brianna Kraemer

Raleigh, NC – The North Carolina House and Senate passed a constitutional amendment on Thursday that will appear on the ballot this November for voters to weigh in on.

Introduced by House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, House Bill 1074 would enshrine citizen-only voting into the North Carolina Constitution. Currently, Article VI Section 1 of the North Carolina Constitution says that every person born in the US and every person who has been naturalized who is 18 years of age is eligible to vote. 

Noncitizens have been allowed to cast ballots in at least 14 municipalities across the country, according to Senate officials, and North Carolina’s citizen voter provision is not as strongly written as other states. Legislators want it clearer that only a qualified citizen is entitled to vote in any North Carolina election.

The legislation passed 99-12 in the House and 40-4 in the Senate.

“It’s only fair to the citizens of this state that we ensure that only citizens are allowed to vote in this state, and this bill gives them the opportunity to decide that for themselves,” said Sen. Buck Newton, R-Wayne. “I hear a lot from my friends on the other side of the aisle about democracy, and so I want to encourage you to please support this bill and let the people decide that only citizens are allowed to vote in North Carolina.”

Voters will have the final say in November’s general election. If a majority of voters approve the amendment, it will be enshrined into the NC Constitution.

The House passed a different act also aimed at amending Article VI of the North Carolina Constitution. House Bill 44 would repeal the literacy test requirement that’s been in place but is no longer enforced. Article VI Section 4 of the North Carolina Constitution states that “every person presenting himself for registration shall be able to read and write any section of the Constitution in the English language.”

Rep. Terry Brown, D-Mecklenburg, explained that the amendment would remove the section that requires a person voting in North Carolina to read a portion of the Constitution. The bill unanimously passed.  

“This was a remnant from the Jim Crow era that has been rendered inoperable by the Voting Rights Act of 1965,” said Brown. “I think that everybody in this body believes that the reasons why this was implemented back in the past is not representative of the state of North Carolina now that we all know and love.”

The Senate approved a bill with various other constitutional amendments on Thursday. One proposal would lower the maximum income tax rate that can be levied by the state from 7% to 5%. Another would expand the voter ID provision in North Carolina’s constitution to require all voters to show a photo ID, not just those voting in person.

When three-fifths of both chambers approve a constitutional amendment, it’s then placed on the general election ballot for voters to decide.