Proposed Change to Drive-Only License Creates Avenue for Voter Fraud


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To the Editor:

Conversation is growing about a controversial proposal from Gov. Ned Lamont that would make the “drive-only” licenses available to illegal immigrants indistinguishable from the driver’s licenses provided to Connecticut residents who are in our country legally.

The gist is that Gov. Lamont’s proposal (H.B. 5057) is a response to action taken last May by Gov. Ron DeSantis in the Sunshine State, which doesn’t honor the out-of-state drive-only licenses issued by states such as Connecticut. Our governor wants to limit the possibility of a “vulnerable” drive-only license holder from Connecticut ending up with immigration problems if he or she happens to be driving in a “hostile” state such as Florida and is pulled over by police.

The Governor’s bill would prohibit language and imagery on these drive-only licenses that makes clear they cannot be used for voting purposes. We find that point particularly concerning.

After all, allegations of election fraud in Bridgeport prove that our state’s election landscape isn’t as squeaky clean as our Democratic colleagues often insisted before that grainy video of someone stuffing a ballot drop box surfaced ahead of their party’s mayoral primary back in September. Bad actors do, in fact, exist, and when you make it easy for them—for example, absentee ballot drop boxes—they’ll take advantage. With that in mind, why would the legislature create another opening for any person or organization to exploit our system?

Back in 2019, NBC Connecticut, citing an internal Department of Motor Vehicles investigation, reported about concern over thousands of fraudulent applications for these drive-only licenses. During a Transportation Committee public hearing last week on the current bill, DMV officials said the agency’s investigation led them to driving schools that acted inappropriately.

If driving schools were brazen enough to exploit the system as we know it, as was told to Transportation Committee members, it’s reasonable to believe that shady political operatives and organizations are salivating over the possibility of confusion when noncitizens, carrying the new nondescript licenses, try to vote. It’s fair to say that more local policing of the Election Day Registration process will be required if the Governor’s bill passes.

Legislation enabling the drive-only license for illegal immigrants passed in 2013. We voted “no” after debate in the House of Representatives that ended just after sunrise. Proponents said it was necessary safety tool—license holders, they argued, would register their vehicles and secure insurance. Now, roughly a decade later, we’ve yet to see Connecticut-specific data proving that argument. Further, proponents promised these licenses could not be used for voting purposes. That pledge makes the current bill all the more frustrating. The Governor specifically prevents the DMV from including on the new license any language indicating that it cannot be used to vote. That’s a blatant erosion of the 2013 promise.

The Governor’s dip into the culture war comes at the wrong time for Connecticut, as federal officials struggle to secure our nation’s borders and both New York and Massachusetts face challenges managing an overwhelming influx of migrants. His prioritization of this proposal is disappointing, particularly when juxtaposed with many other critical issues that demand attention, such as juvenile crime, problems in state-funded group homes for at-risk kids, and even absentee ballot fraud.

This this topic demands more scrutiny, and we look forward to vigorous debate about the Governor’s bill as the legislative session progresses.

State Rep. Vincent Candelora represents the 86th Assembly District serving residents of North Branford, Durham, East Haven, and Guilford.

State Rep. Tom O’Dea represents the 125th Assembly District serving residents of New Canaan, Darien and Stamford.