The Auto Care Association issued an announcement this week that the Massachusetts Right to Repair Committee turned in 24,000 signatures on Wednesday, July 1 to the Secretary of State regarding a ballot question that would mandate car companies provide car owners with control of repair data generated by their vehicles. The submission is more than the 13,374 signatures that are required by law to have a question placed on the ballot. While these signatures are usually collected manually, the COVID-19 virus forced the Committee was to seek a consent decree from the Massachusetts Supreme Court that permitted the collection of signatures electronically.
On Wednesday, July 8, the vehicle manufacturers under the guise of the Coalition for Safe and Secure Data, submitted a legal challenge to the Massachusetts Ballot Commission, arguing that the Right to Repair Committee disobeyed electronic signature-gathering requirements outlined by the Massachusetts Supreme Court by storing the signatures in a separate file and tracking personal data without notification.
However, in a similar case decided by the Massachusetts Supreme Court on Monday, a candidate for Congress, Helen Brady, who used the same signature gathering vendor used by the Massachusetts Right to Repair Committee, had her challenge approved — thus allowing Brady to move on to the November ballot. Subsequent to that decision, the vehicle manufacturer coalition withdrew their challenge and the Secretary of State declared that the right to repair question will appear on the ballot and have the chance to be decided by Massachusetts voters.
The Right to Repair Committee released the following statement regarding the Secretary of State’s approval of the question for the November ballot:
“We are pleased for the voters and the tens of thousands of Massachusetts workers who depend on a free and open auto repair market,” said Tommy Hickey, director, Massachusetts Right to Repair. “By withdrawing their challenge, the front group for automakers and car dealers has admitted that their arguments against the Right to Repair signature effort were specious, ill-informed and not based on facts. Their attempt to once again thwart the will of the voters is a sign of their greed and continued desire to monopolize the auto repair market, leaving Massachusetts consumers and independent repair shops in the dust. The scare tactics from manufacturers and dealers have failed. A ‘yes’ vote for Right to Repair will protect Massachusetts drivers’ choice to continue to get their cars repaired wherever they want.”