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Keller @ Large: RMV Mess Could Tighten Governor's Race

BOSTON (CBS) - Did you go to the Registry of Motor Vehicles on Monday to take care of business? If so, you have my deepest sympathies. Perhaps they worked out some of the kinks in their new software Tuesday, but Monday was a horror show, with endless lines and reported waits of up to five hours. Five hours! That's longer than a Red Sox - Yankees game!

rmv line
The line outside the RMV in Boston, March 26, 2018. (WBZ-TV)

A big part of the problem was the federal requirement that we all get a so-called "Real ID" that requires extra proof of who you are and that you go down to the RMV to get it in person. This reminds me of the fiasco that occurred with the state Health Care Connector when the feds insisted we ditch our signup system and replace it with one they wanted, a major failure of the Obama-Patrick era.

There's no use crying about it. We are one of the last states to require Real ID, and if you don't get one by 2020 it's going to be a real pain to board flights and do other business. But the horror of Monday's RMV meltdown is a throwback to the bad old days of the registry around here, when a five-hour wait was much closer to the norm.

Real ID Massachusetts driver's license
(Image credit:

And if the Real ID bureaucracy does undo even some of the gains we've made since then, it's a major political nightmare for Gov. Charlie Baker. He made improving registry service a major part of his successful campaign four years ago, an allegory for his overall branding as a can-do nuts-and-bolts manager.

It's one thing that Baker has struggled to make MBTA trains run on time. It's quite another if the registry gets and stays worse on his watch. If that happens, this year's race for governor may be tighter than most people expect.

Your thoughts are welcome via email at, or use Twitter, @kelleratlarge.

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