Governor Charlie Baker’s reasons for opposing driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants don’t add up
Baker told reporters on Monday that because “we have made issuing a driver’s license a means by which people register to vote,” under the Motor Voters Act, that if the proposed law is passed, “we will have a lot of provisional votes which then make it harder for people to know who actually won the election.
The state’s chief election officer, Secretary of State Bill Galvin, told The Globe’s editorial board, “It’s just a bogus argument.
“That argument is being used nationally by Republicans as it was before the Ohio primary,” he added. “But I just don’t know what planet he’s on [Baker] on.”
The bill, which passed the Senate last week as the Work and Family Mobility Act, and passed the House earlier in a slightly different form, would essentially allow non-citizens to obtain drive by providing two pieces of identification which may include a foreign passport, birth certificate or marriage certificate.
“I think it creates a lot of complexity for cities and towns,” Baker insisted, raising the specter of hordes of undocumented immigrants likely showing up at town halls demanding to vote.
So maybe a reality check is in order.
Non-nationals can already get licenses – and the sky didn’t fall on local election officials. Meanwhile, expanding the pool of non-nationals who can obtain licenses could improve the lives of thousands of people.
“The ability to get behind the wheel and drive to work or take your child to the doctor is something that many of us might take for granted,” Senate Speaker Karen Spilka told a conference. press last week. “But for many immigrants, it stands in the way of being able to put food on the table or take care of their families.”
For those in law enforcement who supported the bill, it was all about these ID requirements and, as Lawrence Police Chief Roy Vasque said, “law enforcement order want to know who our officers are arresting. And I hope they stop now that they are no longer afraid to run from law enforcement because they [will now] have an ID.
Yes, the register tries to register voters, but the Licensing Bill as passed also specifies that those without proof of citizenship will not be automatically registered. Baker may not trust his own RMV to do the job, but since the law won’t go into effect until July 1, 2023, perhaps his successor will insist on a department that can handle this simple task.
The implementation of REAL ID on driver’s licenses, which will come into force in May 2023 and will require citizens to produce a social security number to obtain a license that can be used for domestic air travel and entry into certain buildings governments will create a two-tier system. license system to better protect the system.
But to follow Baker’s hyperbolic script, his mythical undocumented immigrant voter would have to decide to risk actual deportation – according to Galvin, the possible punishment for a non-citizen attempting to vote. Provisional ballots come into play if a voter’s name is not on the list of registered voters or is entered incorrectly. This ballot is not counted if the person is deemed ineligible to vote.
There can be many things that keep us up at night, but election delays caused by a large number of illegal votes cast here in Massachusetts are not one of them.
The driver’s license bill passed by unvetoed majorities in the House and Senate for all the right reasons. This would make around 185,000 undocumented immigrants eligible to learn the rules of the road, to take the tests that would certify that they know these rules and are competent behind the wheel, and in doing so would make the roads safer for all of us.
And it would make a difference in people’s lives, enabling more of them to join a workforce where they are badly needed.
No amount of governor obfuscation can change these simple facts of life.
Editorials represent the opinions of the Editorial Board of The Boston Globe. Follow us on Twitter at @GlobeOpinion.