SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Election Forum

October 17, 2012

Our view: Don't ignore Question 1

There are plenty of pithy candidate races and deep-thought ballot questions facing voters in this November’s election. But one item in particular deserves special note for creating more confusion and distractions than any other.

Question 1 on the ballot asks voters to approve the “Right to Repair” initiative, a measure that allows repair garages to have access to computer data that is vital to diagnosing problems with their customers’ cars. Many auto manufacturers had denied repair garages access to this data, which, the garage lobby has correctly argued, puts them at a competitive disadvantage with auto dealers’ service departments.

The repair garages have argued that this costs consumers a tremendous amount of money — up to $500 for certain kids of repairs. They’ve been fighting unsuccessfully for years to pry these computer codes out of the hands of auto dealers.

This battle has been waged in legislatures across the nation, but Massachusetts is the first state to take definitive action. This year, the repair garage lobby successfully managed to get the measure on the ballot, but at the same time, state lawmakers also passed a measure that struck a compromise between the two sides. Lawmakers’ actions came too late to erase the ballot question.

As a result, we have both a law on the books that reflects a compromise, and we have a ballot measure that asks voters to impose a law that more heavily favors the repair garages.

If that isn’t confusing enough, here’s the rest of the story.

The two sides that have been battling for months over the issue — the Right to Repair Coalition and Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers — have launched a new campaign that gives the most bizarre election advice we’ve heard in a long time. Their advice on the ballot question? Just “skip it.”

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Election Forum

Local News
  • Ex-Market Basket boss wants to buy company

    July 24, 2014

  • Court finds Danvers nursing home at fault DANVERS -- The estate of an elderly woman who died after a fall and weeks of neglect at a Danvers nursing home has won a $14.5 million verdict in a wrongful death and negligence case. A Middlesex Superior Court jury awarded the estate of Genevieve Ca

    July 24, 2014

  • chism2 [Duplicate] Chism arraigned in second attack

    BOSTON -- When the woman came out of the bathroom, accused murderer Philip Chism was standing a foot in front of her. He put his hands around the clinician's neck, started choking her and pushed her up against a cinder block wall, a prosecutor said.

    July 24, 2014 3 Photos 7 Stories

  • 140723_SN_DLE_PROTESTERS4 Danvers Market Basket forced to toss food

    DANVERS -- Cars peppered the Market Basket intersection Wednesday afternoon with honks supporting grocery chain workers, who held signs calling for the reinstatement of fired CEO Arthur T. Demoulas. But the latest development in the grocery chain spe

    July 24, 2014 5 Photos 6 Stories

  • Scuba diver found off Marblehead identified MARBLEHEAD -- The scuba diver who died in an apparent drowning Tuesday off the coast of Marblehead was identified Wednesday as 58-year-old Gregory Cole of Westfield. The Essex District Attorney's Office said the state medical examiner's office will c

    July 24, 2014