California Sues Huntington Beach over Voter ID Law as State Pushes Back on Conservative Locality

California Attorney General Rob Bonta with Secretary of State Shirley Weber (composite image)
by Natalia Mittelstadt


The State of California is suing the city of Huntington Beach over a new voter ID law passed by voters last month, claiming it violates state law, in another pushback against a conservative locality in the liberal state.

Huntington Beach and Shasta County have both passed election integrity measures for their jurisdictions, but the California executive branch and state legislature — both supported by far-left donors — have shown their displeasure by responding with lawsuits and legislation to counter them.

On Monday, California Attorney General Rob Bonta (D) and Secretary of State Shirley Weber (D) sued Huntington Beach after voters passed a ballot measure last month that allows the city to require voter ID in local elections starting in 2026. The state requires voters to present a form of identification only when they are voting for the first time.

“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 on Monday. “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. We’re asking the court to block Huntington Beach’s unlawful step toward suppressing or disenfranchising voters,” he continued.

In September, before the Huntington Beach City Council voted 4-3 in October to place the voter ID charter amendments on the city’s primary ballot, the California attorney general and secretary of state sent a letter warning of the consequence of implementing the proposal.

The letter said the proposed amendment “conflicts with state law and would only serve to suppress voter participation without providing any discernible local benefit,” and that if the city placed the voter ID amendment on the ballot, “we stand ready to take appropriate action to ensure that voters’ rights are protected, and state election laws are enforced.”

After the City Council voted for the amendment to be placed on the ballot, former Huntington Beach planning Commissioner Mark Bixby sued over the amendment, claiming “it violates the constitutional rights to vote and state law.”

In December 2023, an Orange County judge declined to block the ballot measure, ruling that Bixby wanted “the judiciary to serve as an auditor of what the electorate may consider for the supposed purpose of preserving democracy.” However, “If this measure were to pass, and if its implementation raises an issue of constitutionality, at that point, it may be appropriate for judicial review,” the judge wrote.

Following the failed lawsuit, in February a Democratic state senator introduced a bill in the legislature that would prevent local governments from implementing voter ID, starting in 2026.

After the California attorney general and secretary of state filed their lawsuit against Huntington Beach, City Attorney Michael Gates said in a statement, “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, (state) Sen. David Min’s, D-Irvine, new bill attempting to make Huntington Beach’s Voter ID illegal. That blatant inconsistency speaks volumes.”

“The city of Huntington Beach’s Voter ID and other elections measures approved by the voters on March 5 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. 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,” Gates added.

Huntington Beach is also being sued by the state over its rejection of a housing plan that would require the city to zone for about 13,400 additional housing units. The state claims that the city is violating state law by not revising its housing element in its general plans in accordance with an assessment made by the Southern California Association of Governments in 2021.

The city of nearly 200,000 people has about 54,000 registered Republicans and 41,000 Democrats. California has also fought with conservative-leaning Shasta County over hand-counting ballots. That county reports 51 percent of voters registered as Republicans, in a state where only about 30 percent of the adult population identify as Republican.

Last year, Shasta County Board of Supervisors voted to terminate its contract with Dominion over concerns about the voting machines, then later decided to move to hand-counting for all of its elections.

After Shasta County decided to end its contract with Dominion, the state enacted a law in October that prevents counties from canceling a contract for a current voting system before signing a new one that meets state approval.

Bonta sent a letter to the Board of Supervisors last year before the new law was passed, writing that if the county didn’t “enter a contract with a certified electronic voting system vendor well in advance of the March 2024 statewide primary election or any intervening election,” then it would “likely render Shasta County in violation of numerous federal and state laws.”

The county counted ballots with machines in both the March primary election this year and the November election last year.

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Natalia Mittelstadt is a reporter at Just the News.
Photo “California Attorney General Rob Bonta” by Rob Bonta. Photo “California Secretary of State Shirley Weber” by California Secretary of State Shirley Weber. Background photo “Huntington Beach Pier” by City of Huntington Beach Government.



Reprinted with permission from Just the News.

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