Laws governing local ballot measures in North Carolina
|North Carolina Constitution|
|Preamble • I • II • III • IV • V • VI • VII • VIII • IX • X • XI • XII • XIII • XIV|
This article sets out the laws governing local ballot measures in North Carolina. It explains:
- Which local units of government make the initiative process available to residents.
- How and whether local units of government, including school districts, can refer local ballot measures (such as school bond propositions) to the ballot.
Types of local government
The U.S. Census Bureau's 2012 study of local governments shows that, as of September of 2012, local government in North Carolina consists of:
653 General Purpose units, including:
- 100 Counties
- 553 Cities, Towns, and Villages
311 Special Districts
In North Carolina, school districts are only required to hold elections if a school district needs to exceed debt limits mandated by the North Carolina Constitution. North Carolina is one of eleven states that has a constitutionally mandated debt limit for school districts. Under North Carolina law, a school district cannot take debt that exceeds two-thirds of their current debt without voter approval. The provision in the Constitution is for all local government units including school districts. However, North Carolina does not mandate elections for bond issues and exceeding levy caps. The Board of County Commissioners in where the school district is located have the power to approve a school district's budget or tax levy. All bond issues for school districts must be approved by the state government.
Campaign Finance Rules
Initiative process availability
State law NC Gen. Stat. Section 160A-104 mandates an initiative process for citizens to propose and vote on charter amendments regarding specific subject matters. The available subject matter is contained in NC Gen. Stat. Section 160A-101.
State law does not grant ordinance initiative power to all cities. However, the General Assembly has granted initiative power to certain cities, such as Raleigh and Greensboro, through special acts. In any city where initiative has been made available, NC Gen. Stat. Section 159-17 states that "The adoption and amendment of the budget ordinance or any project ordinance and the levy of taxes in the budget ordinance are not subject to the provisions of any city charter or local act concerning initiative or referendum."  
| Ballot Law Portal|
|Laws Governing Ballot Measures|
There are no constitutional provisions for local initiative.
|A guide to local ballot initiatives|
- NC Gen. Stat. Section 160A-104 The power to circulate initiative petitions for charter amendments is granted in North Carolina General Statutes Section 160A-104.
Other relevant sections to the initiative process are:
- NC Gen. Stat. Section 160A-101
- NC Gen. Stat. Section 159-17
- NC Gen. Stat. Section 163-218, 219
Initiative process features in charter cities
The Initiative process features for charter amendments are detailed in North Carolina General Statutes 160A-104.
Initiative process in the top 10 most populated cities
|Local I&R Laws in the 50 States|
|Source:Local Ballot Initiatives: How citizens change laws with |
clipboards, conversations, and campaigns
|List of Most Populated Cities in North Carolina|
|City||Population||City Type||Next election|
|High Point||105,753||Charter||No I&R|
All city charters may be amended by initiative regarding certain subject matters in accordance with the provisions detailed above. In addition, some cities have initiative for ordinances granted by special acts of the state legislature.
- Ballotpedia: Research document of North Carolina local I&R laws
- North Carolina League of Municipalities
- ↑ The U.S. Census Bureau's 2012 study of local governments
- ↑ North Carolina League of Municipalities, How NC Municipalities Work
- ↑ Ballotpedia: Types and #'s of local government by state
- ↑ Municode, Raleigh City Charter and Ordinances
- ↑ Municode, Greensboro Charter and Ordinances
- ↑ North Carolina General Statutes 160A-104
- ↑ North Carolina General Statutes 160A-101
- ↑ US Census Bureau "City and Town Totals: Vintage 2011 (Population figures as of 2011 Census estimates)
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 9.6 9.7 9.8 9.9 US Census, Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places in North Carolina: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2011