California sues city of Huntington Beach over voter ID law backed by majority of residents

The “will of the people” in the California city of Huntington Beach is being challenged by state officials who are suing over a voter ID law supported by most residents.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta and California Secretary of State Shirley Weber, both Democrats, have filed a lawsuit against the predominantly Republican beachside town over Measure A which passed last month.

While the state of California doesn’t require voter ID for elections, the charter for the Orange County city would be amended by the ballot measure that would require municipal elections – not state or federal elections – to “require Voter Identification for elections; provide more in-person voting locations; and monitor ballot drop-boxes” starting in 2026.

But Bonta and Weber, who held a press conference on the issue, argued in the lawsuit that the measure “unlawfully conflicts and is preempted by state law,” according to a press release.

“The right to freely cast your vote is the foundation of our democracy and Huntington Beach’s voter ID policy flies in the face of this principle,” Bonta said in a statement.

“State election law already contains robust voter ID requirements with strong protections to prevent voter fraud, while ensuring that every eligible voter can cast their ballot without hardship. Imposing unnecessary obstacles to voter participation disproportionately burdens low-income voters, voters of color, young or elderly voters, and people with disabilities,” Bonta continued. “We’re asking the court to block Huntington Beach’s unlawful step toward suppressing or disenfranchising voters. The California Department of Justice stands ready to defend the voting rights that make our democracy strong.”

“This voter ID measure conflicts with state law,” Weber said in a statement. “Not only is it a solution in search of a problem, laws like these are harmful to California voters, especially low-income, the elderly, people of color, those with disabilities, and young voters.”

But City Attorney Michael Gates begs to differ, vowing to “uphold and defend the will of the people.”

The amendment is “not only permissible,” according to Gates, but the state constitution also backs it.

“The people of Huntington Beach have made their voices clear on this issue and the people’s decision on the March 5th ballot measures for election integrity is final,” he said in a statement.”To that end, the City will vigorously uphold and defend the will of the people.”

“The Attorney General’s Press Release that the City’s Voter ID requirements violate State Law is inconsistent with, in fact in direct conflict with, Senator David Min’s new bill attempting to make Huntington Beach’s Voter ID illegal. That blatant inconsistency speaks volumes,” Gates said.

“The City of Huntington Beach’s Voter ID and other elections measures approved by the voters on March 5th to increase voter participation by mandating at least 20 more in-person polling locations and monitoring of ballot drop boxes are not only permissible, the City’s authority is provided for them in the California Constitution, Article XI, Section 5(b), for local elections,” he added.

The voter ID measure was placed on the March ballot by the City Council which consists of a conservative majority since 2022.

“Huntington Beach, dubbed ‘Surf City USA’ and known for its scenic shoreline, has a history of sparring with state officials over the measures it can take under its city charter on topics ranging from immigration to housing,” Fox News reported. “While Democrats outnumber Republicans in Orange County, the GOP is dominant in Huntington Beach with nearly 54,000 registered voters versus 41,000 Democrats, county data shows.”

“The people of Huntington Beach voted for this initiative,” Councilmember Tony Strickland said. “It’s not shocking they want to thwart the will of the people.”

Frieda Powers

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