A majority of Massachusetts voters support keeping a new state law making immigrants without legal status eligible for state-issued driver’s licenses, according to a poll released as opponents of the law strive to repeal it.
In a new Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll, about 58 percent of the 569 registered voters surveyed this month said they'd vote to keep the law if they have the option to do so in November, while 34 percent said they'd vote for a repeal.
Support for letting the law stand was driven by women, younger voters and people of color, said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center.
"I think what we're seeing in this poll is you've got people who truly believe that repealing this law is a bad idea, but you also have people who don't want to change what's already part of law, and this speaks to the power of the state Legislature," Paleologos said.
The law, which state legislators passed in June over a veto from Gov. Charlie Baker, would allow people without legal immigration status to apply for standard Massachusetts driver’s licenses starting in July 2023, if they provide documents proving their identity, date of birth and residency.
Critics of the law have launched an effort to repeal it. To put a repeal question on November’s ballot alongside races for governor, Congress, state legislative seats and more, they must collect at least 40,120 voter signatures and submit those signatures to local election officials by Aug. 24 and to the state by Sept. 7.
The poll tracked a sharp partisan divide on the license question, with 78 percent of Republicans in favor of the repeal and 82 percent of Democrats wanting to keep the law. Among unenrolled voters, who make up a majority of the state's electorate, the margin was closer: 51 percent said they would vote to keep the law and 37 percent repeal it. The percentage of independent voters who were undecided was also slightly higher at 11 percent, compared to 8 percent of all respondents.
"Where the rubber hits the road in midterm elections, really, is among independents," Paleologos said.