Question 4 on Massachusetts' 2022 general election ballots asks voters if the state should keep or repeal its new law allowing undocumented immigrants to get driver's licenses beginning next year.
Under the new law, people in the country without legal status would be able to apply for a driver’s license starting July 1, 2023, if they can provide the Registry of Motor Vehicles with a foreign passport or consular identification document.
They would also have to provide one of five additional documents: a driver’s license from another U.S. state or territory, a birth certificate, a foreign national identification card, a foreign driver’s license or a marriage certificate or divorce decree from any U.S. state or territory.
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Researchers at Tufts University's Center for State Policy Analysis found that other states have implemented similar legislation successfully when it comes to authorizing and validating documents, Executive Director Evan Horowitz said on NBC10 Boston's political podcast, "Countdown to Decision 2022."
"If the RMV can't handle it, we have a much deeper problem at the RMV," Horowitz said. "Like 16 other states can handle it. We need to be able to handle it."
For more on this and other ballot questions, listen to our election podcast, "Countdown to Decision 2022."
The bill passed into law this year over Gov. Charlie Baker's veto, but it has continued to spark debate. Baker, in his veto letter to lawmakers, argued the new law "increases the risk that noncitizens will be registered to vote," fears that supporters say are overblown in part because those using the licenses to register to vote could end up facing deportation. They argue that the policy enhances road safety by ensuring that drivers pass a driving test, have insurance and a license.
"Other states that have allowed undocumented drivers to get licenses make things safer on safer on the roadway," political commentator Sue O'Connell said. "So the impact of the law that's already passed to our community is that people get trained to be on the road. They actually have to have a license."
A transportation secretary from the Dukakis administration, the Massachusetts Major Cities Chiefs of Police Association and Middlesex Sheriff Peter Koutoujian are among the public figures working to convince voters to keep the law in place. The push to repeal the new law through November's ballot question is being led in large part by the state Republican Party.
State House News Service contributed to this report.
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