Maine Voters Approve Right to Repair Ballot Question
More than 84% of voters answered "yes" to whether or not independent repairers should have access to in-vehicle telematics.
Written by Autobody News Staff
Published Nov. 8, 2023
A referendum question on Maine’s ballot asking voters if independent repairers should have the same access to vehicle data as dealerships received overwhelming support at the polls Nov. 7.
Question 4 on the ballot asked: Do you want to require vehicle manufacturers to standardize on-board diagnostic systems and provide remote access to those systems and mechanical data to owners and independent repair facilities?
More than 84% of voters said “yes.”
"By voting yes on Question 4, Mainers have now joined Massachusetts in a growing national movement to update automotive Right to Repair laws for the modern age of connected cars," said Tommy Hickey, director of the Maine Right to Repair coalition. "Automakers are trying to monopolize the market on car and truck repairs but their customers, the voters, are acting overwhelmingly to put the brakes on them."
“Maine voters' overwhelming show of support for Question 4 adds momentum to the growing national push for right to repair protections,” said Justin Rzepka, executive director of the CAR Coalition. “The CAR Coalition will continue this important fight at the federal level with bipartisan bills like the SMART and REPAIR Acts to ensure every American---no matter where they live---has the right to repair the car they own.”
“The result of last night’s election in Maine proved another victory for the American consumer and the right to repair movement that is gaining support across the United States,” said Bill Hanvey, president and CEO of the Auto Care Association. “The right to repair is one of a few unifying issues our nation faces, and whether we achieve repair access chamber by chamber or state by state, I am confident that every American will soon have the fundamental right to repair what belongs to them. Right to repair isn’t going away and this victory demonstrates that it’s an issue that needs to be resolved.”
The question was put on the ballot in February, after the Maine Right to Repair coalition submitted more than 70,000 voter signatures supporting it. Auto repair shops in the state largely supported the question.
Opposing the referendum question was the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, a trade group representing automakers. The alliance has spent the last three years fighting a similar law approved by voters in Massachusetts in 2020, which finally went into effect earlier this year.
“The Question 4 results are disappointing but hardly surprising,” said John Bozzella, president and CEO of the alliance. “Out-of-state, big-box auto retailers---that don’t speak for independent auto repairers---spent nearly $5 million trying to scare Mainers into thinking that the right-to-repair their vehicles was going away.
“Out-of-state auto retailers backed this referendum for one reason: to grab your private vehicle telematics data and get access to your dashboard so they can try to sell you things. That’s not the definition of right-to-repair,” Bozzella said.
Bozzella urged the Maine Legislature during its upcoming 2024 session to instead consider legislation to codify a Memorandum of Understanding first signed in 2014 and reaffirmed in July, between the alliance, the Automotive Service Association and the Society of Collision Repair Specialists, stating “independent repair facilities shall have access to the same diagnostic and repair information that auto manufacturers make available to authorized dealer networks.”