Repeal Campaign Finds Voters Motivated

Volunteers Quickly Secure Thousands of Signatures

Boston, AUG. 24, 2022…..Opponents of a new Massachusetts law that would open driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants moved closer to putting a referendum on the ballot, declaring confidence Wednesday that the repeal question had empowered voters and could sway Republicans “and down the ticket.” .”

Leaders of the repeal campaign, backed by many power players, said they had gathered more than 100,000 people by Wednesday’s deadline to register with local election officials. Clerks have already verified about 78,000 of those signatories, organizers said, nearly double the 40,120 needed for the referendum to move forward.

Wendy Wakeman (center), chairwoman of the committee seeking to repeal the new immigration law, examines a stack of voter signatures from Boston City Hall Wednesday as she is flanked by committee chair Maureen Maloney (right) and Republican voter Geoff Diehl (left). [Chris Lisinski/SHNS]

The measure has yet to find a place on the Nov. 1 ballot. 8, but the increase in signatures represents a major step forward in asking voters if the Democrats’ law was enacted over the opposition of Republican Gov. Charlie Baker should be working next summer.

MassGOP Chairman Jim Lyons and Republican presidential candidate Geoff Diehl, who joined campaign organizers at an event Wednesday, called the results so far “democracy at work.”

“It’s the wrong way. As Governor Baker said, the RMV is not prepared to deal with this,” said Diehl, referring to the concerns Baker expressed when he opposed the decision regarding the Registry of Motor Vehicles to be able to process foreign documents. and what can provide protection.”

Signatures were due by local election officials by Wednesday to receive certificates, and the campaign must submit them to Secretary of State William Galvin’s office on September 7 for review and final tallying.

Galvin’s spokeswoman, Deb O’Malley, said the office won’t count signatures until after the deadline, but that so far the campaign has received “about 36 petitions.”

Maureen Maloney, chairwoman of the referendum campaign, said the organizers saw great interest in the topic at her meetings, “where voters stood up to sign our petitions, where voters took empty petitions home to give their friends and family a sign, and voters announced. to our reasons theirs to reject this law.”

“There was and is overwhelming support from Massachusetts voters to repeal the driver’s license law,” Maloney said.

Lyons said he believes the inclusion of the vote could create a coalition, especially among conservative Republicans “who may not have come out in the past.”

“We hope that this will help all those who voted for us up and down the ticket, not only to get people out to vote, but because these people have a lot of power – the number of people who went to collect signatures is. something I have not seen before, and I have been doing this for a long time,” he told reporters.

Under the new law that takes effect on July 1, 2023, all Massachusetts residents of legal age will be eligible to apply for driver’s licenses, regardless of their immigration status. Immigrants without legal permission to enter the United States will need to submit other documents – including a valid, unused passport or a valid, unused consular document – to prove their identity, date of birth and residency.

Opponents say the measure would unfairly reward immigrants in Massachusetts and could create risks of voter fraud.

Maloney, whose son Matthew Denice was killed by a drunk driver who did not have a valid US driver’s license, said the Bay State’s roads will be “very unsafe” if the law goes into effect.

Proponents of the policy oppose the policy, saying it will increase road safety by ensuring more drivers receive advanced driver’s education and a test before receiving a driver’s license.

Executive Director of the Brazilian Worker Center Lenita Reason and 32BJ SEIU Vice President Roxana Rivera, who founded the coalition of many groups that support the legislation, said “the main section of the bill proves that Massachusetts has changed and we can all work together.”

“It passed so that all parties in an accident have insurance, so that the police can easily identify the driver, so that refugees can take their children to the doctor without fear,” Reason and Rivera said in a joint statement on Wednesday. “Look at those who are pushing to change the driving laws and you will see the same people who want to roll back abortion protection laws, voting rights, and many other laws that promote safety and equality. We cannot allow this to happen here in Massachusetts. “

The Suffolk University and Boston Globe poll of 569 registered voters was conducted in mid-July he got 58 percent support to keep the new law and 34 percent want to repeal it, and 8 percent are not sure.

The referendum campaign said it was relying on a group of around 1,000 volunteers to collect the majority of signatures. Wendy Wakeman, managing director of the campaign committee, told the News Service that the group “had less than 200 signatures due to paid signatures.”

“We tried to hire other people, but it didn’t happen, and frankly, the response was so terrible that we realized we shouldn’t go that way,” he said.

Wakeman said the campaign has spent about $50,000 so far on printing petitions and signs, feeding volunteers and other expenses.

“We knew the importance of this issue, and it was clear that my campaign wanted to participate, the volunteers that I have in my team, so we joined them immediately, left everything we were doing and went out and started collecting well. away,” said Diehl.

No more than 10,030 signatures from one district – representing 25 percent of the total requirements – will count to make up the ballot. Wakeman said the campaign “must have” four counties above the border: Norfolk, Middlesex, Essex and Plymouth.

But he said he does not expect the limit to affect the referendum’s path to the vote due to the number of signatures and the size of the playing field.

“This became such a sound word. It did not bother me at all. The important thing is that we have gathered enough signatures everywhere so that it will not be difficult,” he said in an interview. “Right now, the clerk’s certifications have given us less than 80,000 signatures. We can’t afford to have a 25 percent problem.”

Lyons, a former attorney general, said at a press conference Wednesday that supporters of the law “threaten, coerce and harass” volunteers who try to sign and that “the press is not silent” on the issue.

The MassGOP filed charges in late July that Attorney General Maura Healey, a Democrat and candidate for the administration, failed to intervene. Lyons said Wednesday that the lawsuits “will play out in court over the next 18 to 24 months.”