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California Sues Huntington Beach To Overturn Voter ID Measure Approved By Voters

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Image CreditEdmond Dantès/Pexels

California Attorney General Rob Bonta sued Huntington Beach on Monday in an effort to prevent a voter ID law passed by city residents from taking effect.

“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, a Democrat, baselessly claimed during a press conference.

Passed by city voters during last month’s California primaries, Huntington Beach Measure A amends the city charter by authorizing the local government to require electors to provide identification to vote in municipal elections. The provision — which won’t take effect until 2026 — also allows the city to “provide more in-person voting locations” and “monitor ballot drop-boxes.”

The initiative was originally proposed and passed by Huntington Beach’s city council late last year before it was sent to voters for approval.

Prior to the council’s passage of the measure, Bonta sent a letter to Huntington Beach’s leading officials in September, claiming the measure “conflicts with state law.” He also regurgitated the debunked lie that voter ID measures “serve to suppress voter participation” and threatened to take “action” if the city council failed to withdraw the proposal.

Filed in Orange County Superior Court on Monday, Bonta’s suit contends that local laws such as Huntington Beach’s voter ID provision are “preempted and invalid” in matters in which “local law conflicts with state law reasonably tailored to the resolution of a statewide concern.”

“Under the California Constitution, the laws of charter cities supersede state law with respect to ‘municipal affairs,’ but state law is supreme with respect to matters of ‘statewide concern,'” the lawsuit reads. “California maintains a uniform and robust legal scheme for protecting the rights of eligible voters and safeguarding the integrity of the electoral process. These laws preempt the grant of authority under Section 705, subdivision (a)(2) of the Huntington Beach City Charter.”

Bonta further argued that Measure A “conflicts with state law concerning voter eligibility and the right to cast a ballot,” and that requiring city voters to present a form of ID for municipal elections undermines the authority of the California State Legislature, “placing the onus on registered voters to establish their eligibility to vote, and groundlessly challenging the right to vote.”

In a statement responding to the lawsuit, Huntington Beach City Attorney Michael Gates told Courthouse News Service the city plans to “vigorously uphold and defend the will of the people.”

“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 said.

Gates noted how legislation introduced earlier this year by Huntington Beach’s Democrat state Sen. Dave Min — seeking to outlaw initiatives like Measure A — proves that Bonta’s claims of illegality hold no weight. Min’s bill would prohibit local governments “from enacting or enforcing any charter provision, ordinance, or regulation requiring a person to present identification for the purpose of voting or submitting a ballot at any polling place, voting center, or other location where ballots are cast or submitted.”

As reported by Courthouse News Service, “Gates said this proves that Bonta [is] wrong — if passing voter ID laws was illegal, why was a new bill necessary?”

Bonta has asked the court to issue a writ of mandate declaring Huntington Beach’s new voter ID law invalid and requiring the city “cease its implementation or enforcement.” He also requested a permanent injunction preventing the provision’s implementation and enforcement, and a declaratory judgment proclaiming it “is preempted by and violates” state law.

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