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Election Day Live Blog

  • The “Right to Repair” question being considered by voters today has had an interesting trajectory as supporters have tried to get the issue made into law. First introduced on Beacon Hill in 2008, the issue spurred a long-running dispute over whether automakers must provide independent repair shops, as well as dealers, with computer software codes needed to diagnose complex car problems.

    Supporters said “Right to Repair” regulation would allow Massachusetts consumers to have their cars fixed wherever they choose. Opponents, including the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, argued that independent mechanics and DIY car nuts already had access to the tools and software they needed to repair most cars.

    Earlier this year, the Right to Repair Coalition, which supports the legislation, succeeded in gathering enough signatures to get the issue put on today’s ballot. Then in late July, legislators approved a compromise that gave automakers more time to comply with the new law, which would require them to make repair and diagnostic codes easily accessible to independent repair shops by 2018 – three years beyond the deadline in the original bill.

    After that, voters were initially urged to skip the ballot question altogether – that is, until a few weeks ago, when AAA of Southern New England began encouraging voters to support Question 1 anew.

    If the ballot question passes today, it will trump the compromise legislation that has already been signed by Governor Deval Patrick. Massachusetts lawmakers could let that stand, try to reconcile the two bills, or vote to repass the compromise legislation.
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