Letters to the Editor: Why are paid signature gatherers even legal?
May 4, 2014 | Michael Wasko
The subject of signature gatherers came up at the recent meeting of the State Police Committee. The issue is whether or not state employees can take home all or a portion of the signatures they collect on driver’s licenses. The department makes the distinction between paid signature gatherers, with a state license and paid canvassers. The State Police do not see any need to change the law; they view a paid signature gatherer as a professional for hire.
What makes them so valuable is that many people do not want to fill out the lengthy forms that often come with drivers’ licenses. If they did, the Department of Motor Vehicles would be very unhappy.
But the law does not require the department to issue a license in the absence of a driver’s license. It merely says a driver’s license can be issued to a person not otherwise eligible for the license.
The department is required to issue a license only if the applicant is eligible.
The current practice of issuing license without driver’s license, and the process of issuing license without driver’s license, have been the subject of several news stories in the newspaper over the past six months.
The stories do not make it clear whether and when the state has issued driver’s licenses to people it has never given the required notice under the law. They do not mention any of the thousands of people who have lost their driver’s license because they failed to give the required notice.
I don’t think anyone is saying drivers’ licenses should be issued without notice. I think that the state should give notice if someone is not eligible for a driver’s license. If the state is going to issue driver’s licenses, then it would be good practice to give notice.
The State Police have the authority to make the department issue a license to someone who is not eligible. It can do that from time to time with the help of the Department of Motor Vehicles.