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Referendum to block undocumented immigrants from receiving drivers’ licenses to appear on Nov. ballot

“Making the ballot is a huge achievement," said Maureen Maloney (pictured at an August rally), chairwoman of the Fair and Secure Massachusetts ballot committee.Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff/file

Voters in the November election will have their say on a controversial Massachusetts law passed in June that would grant driver’s licenses to residents without legal immigration status, officials said Friday.

The state Elections Division certified the proposed referendum as Question 4 on the Nov. 8 ballot after accepting 71,883 signatures submitted by opponents of the law, known as the Work and Family Mobility Act. There were 40,120 signatures required for certification.

Maureen Maloney, chairwoman of the Fair and Secure Massachusetts ballot committee, which submitted the referendum, said Friday that their goal has widespread support.

“Making the ballot is a huge achievement, and to do it with such an excess of signatures shows the groundswell of support across the commonwealth for repealing this law,” Maloney said in a statement.

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In an earlier statement, the committee said its volunteers had collected more than 100,000 signatures and submitted nearly 80,000 by the Wednesday deadline.

Elizabeth Sweet, executive director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, said in a separate statement that supporters of licenses for undocumented immigrants have numbers on their side.

“A broad coalition of law enforcement leaders, advocates and legislators came together to create this common sense law that will help make everyone safer on the roads,” Sweet said. “The Work and Family Mobility Act will mean that all drivers — regardless of immigration status — would follow the same rules of the road, pass the same road test, and possess the same insurance requirements.”

Sweet accused opponents of the law of putting “public safety at risk to score cheap political points.”

Massachusetts became the 17th state to approve licenses for undocumented immigrants when the bill became law on June 9, a vote by legislators to override a veto from Governor Charlie Baker.

Baker had vetoed the measure one day after it was approved by legislators, saying it “increases the risk that noncitizens will be registered to vote.”

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Under the law, the state is required to ensure that people who lack proof of legal residence are not automatically registered to vote under a state law that registers those seeking driver’s licenses who are of voting age.

If the law survives the challenge at the polls, undocumented Massachusetts residents can start the process of applying for the licenses on July 1, 2023, by providing two documents that prove their identity, such as a foreign passport and a birth certificate.



Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at jeremy.fox@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeremycfox.