Huntington Beach Voters Will Decide on Voter ID Requirements in March

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Voters in the coastal California city of Huntington Beach don’t need to present an ID when voting in municipal elections, but that could change depending on the outcome of a charter amendment on the ballot in the city’s primary election in March. 

The amendment, which was approved in October by the city council to appear on the primary ballot, would allow city officials to implement voter ID requirements for municipal elections, as well as monitor ballot drop boxes and require a minimum number of polling places. 

The charter amendment has drawn sharp criticism since the city council approved it to be on the March ballot. Mark Bixby, a Huntington Beach resident and former planning commissioner for the city, filed a lawsuit in November to stop the amendment from appearing on the ballot. “Imposing a Voter ID requirement in city elections is not just a terrible idea that will undermine confidence in local elections, but is a clear and blatant violation of the state constitution, the state elections code and basic fundamental rights,” Bixby said in a statement to the Los Angeles Times. 

But an Orange County Superior Court ruled in December that the amendment can go on the primary ballot to let voters decide its fate. 

California Attorney General Rob Bonta and Secretary of State Shirley Weber both warned the Huntington City Council that requiring voter ID at polls conflicts with state law. 

“State elections law are in place to ensure the fundamental right to vote without imposing unnecessary obstacles that can reduce voter participation or disproportionately burden low-income voters, racial and ethnic minorities, the elderly, or people with disabilities,” Bonta said. “Huntington Beach’s proposed amendment violates state law and would impose additional barriers to voting. If the city moves forward and places it on the ballot, we stand ready to take appropriate action to ensure that voters’ rights are protected.”

Should the amendment pass, Bonta and Weber said that they will stand ready “to ensure it is not implemented in a way that interferes with the right to vote or otherwise conflicts with state law.”

Voters will head to the polls on March 5 and mail-in ballots will be sent out on Feb. 5. 

Read the full lawsuit here. 

Learn more about voter ID laws here.