“Surprise special session” is yet another attempt to undermine democracy

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Lawmakers plan to write misleading descriptions of proposed constitutional amendments and eliminate voters’ right to weigh in on ballot language

RALEIGH -- Progress NC Action released the following statement Tuesday in response to the General Assembly’s “surprise special session” convening today:

“The proposed amendments were already a cynical ploy to boost conservative turnout at the expense of the state constitution,” said Logan Smith, Communications Director for Progress NC Action. “This surprise special session is merely another example of lawmakers trying to rig elections in order to hold on to their illegitimate power."

“These proposed amendments were intentionally written to be as misleading as possible to voters: for instance, the false claim that the proposed income tax cap 'lowers taxes' or a voter ID requirement that includes absolutely no details. That’s why it’s important to let the bipartisan committee fairly and accurately describe each amendment, instead of letting the notoriously hyperpartisan and truth-challenged General Assembly write the language.”

Under a state law passed in 2016, the description of each amendment that will appear on the ballot is written by a bipartisan committee consisting of Attorney General Josh Stein, Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, and Republican political appointee Paul Coble. The committee is scheduled to meet on July 31 to accept public input on the amendments, which they will use to write the ballot language.

But instead of following their own law, lawmakers have now convened a surprise special session to grab even more power and simply write the ballot language themselves. Even state Rep. David Lewis admitted that if the bipartisan committee writes honest descriptions of the proposed amendments, voters might reject them -- which betrays the true purpose of this nakedly partisan and anti-democratic special session.

“The politicians keep saying ‘let the people decide,’ so why are they trying to eliminate public input on the ballot language of these misleading amendment proposals?” asked Smith. “With their supermajorities on the line in November, Republican lawmakers have given up any pretense of governing fairly. Everything they are doing to meddle with elections is for one purpose -- holding onto their illegitimate power regardless of the will of the voters.”

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