California sues Huntington Beach over ‘blatant and blatantly illegal’ voter ID law

Everyone who voted received a sticker at the Civic Center polling place in Huntington Beach on Tuesday, November 3, 2020.

(Raul Roa/Staff Photographer)

California sues Huntington Beach over ‘blatant and blatantly illegal’ voter ID law

Elections 2024, California politics

Laura J. Nelson

April 15, 2024



South Huntington Beach

on Monday

claiming that

that of the city

The new law requiring voters to show photo ID violates state law.

The 320-page lawsuit, filed Monday in Orange County Superior Court, accuses Huntington Beach of violating the California Constitution and the state election code over a new charter amendment that requires voters to show photo identification at local elections starting in 2026.

Huntington Beach has argued that the city charter gives local officials the authority to handle municipal issues, including local elections. In addition to the photo identification requirement, the amendment requires Huntington Beach to provide 20 in-person polling places and monitor ballot drop boxes.

Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta said Monday that Huntington Beach’s charter does not exempt the city from following state laws governing voter registration and election integrity. The photo ID requirement “is not only misleading, it is downright illegal,” Bonta said at a news conference in downtown Los Angeles.

“They have vastly overestimated the authority they think they have,” said Bonta, a Democrat. “They deliberately broke the law, they brazenly broke the law. … They know exactly what they’re doing, and they’re doing it anyway.”

Huntington Beach voters approved the proposal


law by passing Measure A on the March 5 ballot, with 53.4% ​​support. Michael Gates, Huntington Beach’s city attorney, said in a statement that “the people of Huntington Beach have made their voices heard clearly on this issue.”

“The city will vigorously uphold and defend the will of the people,” Gates said.

Bonta’s lawsuit is the latest clash between California and Huntington Beach, which has put itself in the crosshairs of the state legislature and the nation’s culture wars since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For the past four years, officials have worked in the conservative resort town

have stated

the Huntington Beach

a “no mask and no vaccine mandate” city, sued the state over zoning to add housing and a “sanctuary city” immigration law, created a


panel to screen children’s books at the city library for sexual content and approved the voter ID measure for the March ballot despite threats of a lawsuit.

After the Huntington Beach City Council began discussing the voter ID measure last fall, Bonta and Secretary of State Shirley N. Weber, California’s top elections official, warned in a letter to city officials that the measure was illegal and could lead to a lawsuit to lead.

California law requires voters to verify their identity when registering to vote and imposes criminal penalties for fraudulent registration, Bonta and Weber wrote. The state does not require photo ID at the polls, but does require voters to provide their name and address.


Huntington Beach

The City Council voted 4-3 in October to place the voter ID law on the March ballot.


Council members Tony Strickland and Gracey Van Der Mark, who supported the measure, wrote in their voting argument that “extreme policies” allowing noncitizens to vote “have spread” and that the measure would “protect Huntington Beach’s elections forever.” .



Council members who opposed the measure said the city’s elections, overseen by the Orange County Registrar of Voters,


was safe and that Huntington Beach was unwilling to oversee its own elections.

Weber, a Democrat, said Monday that her office is investigating claims of voter fraud and “has not found it to be true that California, nor any other state, is suffering from a tremendous amount of fraud.”

The voter ID measure “is really a solution in search of a problem,” Weber said.

A Huntington Beach resident filed a lawsuit in November to block the voter ID card. The ACLU of Southern California and Disability Rights California filed documents in support of the lawsuit, arguing that voter ID laws impose heavy burdens on Black, Latino and low-income voters.

Orange County Superior Court Judge Nick Dourbetas declined to block the measure from appearing on the ballot, but wrote in his December ruling that if the measure passes “and if its implementation raises a question of constitutionality, it moment may be appropriate for judicial review. .”

Bonta warned Huntington Beach last fall that there was another facet of the charter change to watch



for mail-in ballots

may also violate state law.

The state’s lawsuit

Submitted Monday

does not mention drop boxes. Bonta said state officials will look at how the

Huntington Beach

The law is being implemented to ensure that it does not conflict with a

law prohibiting a ban

taking photographs, videos or otherwise recording voters at polling places or


ballot boxes “with the intent to deter any person from voting.”


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