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Worcester Telegram & Gazette: MA Voters OK Question 1

Source: William J. Dowd, Worcester Telegram & Gazette

Massachusetts voters expanded the state’s vehicular right to repair law when they overwhelmingly adopted Question 1 on Tuesday night, according to initial results reported by the Associated Press.

Massachusetts overwhelmingly adopted Question 1 with the ballot question capturing 75%. With 79.48% of precincts in at 12:30 a.m., it showed 24.9% voted against the ballot question.

Tommy Hickey, the director of Massachusetts Right to Repair Coalition, claimed a resounding Yes on 1 victory shortly after 9 p.m.

“The people have spoken — by a huge margin — in favor of immediately updating right to repair so it applies to today’s high-tech cars and trucks,” said Hickey.

National repair chains and independent repair groups sponsored Question 1 to update the right to repair law that 87% of Massachusetts voters adopted via a 2012 referendum.

It was a first-in-the-nation piece of legislation that the state implemented in 2013, forcing automakers to supply Massachusetts independent repair shops access to the same vehicle diagnostic and repair information available to their authorized dealerships.

The referendum passed on Tuesday will now update the 2013 law to account for what is called telematics systems in newer vehicles.

Telematics technology essentially assesses the vital signs of motor vehicles and, among other capabilities, wirelessly communicates to automakers when they require maintenance. This information is exclusively accessible to automakers and their authorized dealerships.

The declared victory on Tuesday will now force automakers to make telematics available to independent shops starting with their 2022 models.

“The thousands of ‘Yes on 1’ signs in front of small businesses around the state tell the story — automakers were trying to corner the market on car repairs, but the voters stopped them,” Hickey said.

The Coalition for Safe and Secure Data, the opposition campaign backed by big automakers, argued independent auto shops have all the data they need for repairs and that the question raised cybersecurity and personal-safety concerns.

Per Oct. 20 filings with the Massachusetts Office of Political and Campaign Finance, the two dueling campaigns raised a combined $50.8 million. Both sides pumped a cumulative $42.8 million into campaign spending and TV advertisements, making the ballot-initiative the most expensive in the Bay State’s history.

Proponents argue Question 1’s passage levels the playing field of an unfair monopoly on repair, maintenance and diagnostic testing once telematics systems become ubiquitous.

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