Attorney General Bonta, Secretary of State Weber File Lawsuit Against Huntington Beach over Unlawful Municipal Voter ID Amendment

Monday, April 15, 2024
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

LOS ANGELES – California Attorney General Rob Bonta and California Secretary of State Shirley N. Weber, Ph.D. today filed a lawsuit against the city of Huntington Beach challenging its voter identification (voter ID) law, Measure A, which amended the city’s charter to purportedly allow the city to impose voter ID requirements at the polls for all municipal elections starting in 2026. In the lawsuit, Attorney General Bonta and Secretary of State Weber allege that this voter ID law unlawfully conflicts with and is preempted by state law.

“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,” said Attorney General Rob Bonta. “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. 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," said California Secretary of State Shirley Weber, Ph.D. "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.”

Today’s lawsuit comes after Huntington Beach advanced the voter ID law despite a warning from the Attorney General and Secretary of State that the measure violates state election law. On September 28, 2023, Attorney General Bonta and Secretary of State Weber sent a letter urging the city to drop the proposal and expressing grave concerns that it would only serve to suppress voter participation without providing any discernible local benefit. The city nevertheless placed the proposal on the ballot, and it passed on March 5, 2024. The Orange County Registrar of Voters certified the election results on March 22, 2024. 

In the lawsuit, the Attorney General and Secretary of State allege that Measure A is preempted by state law and invalid. Under the California Constitution, charter cities have the right to govern “municipal affairs,” but local law cannot conflict with state law governing a “statewide concern.” Both the integrity of California’s elections and the protection of the constitutional right to vote are matters of statewide concern.

The lawsuit further argues that California already maintains a uniform and robust legal scheme for safeguarding the integrity of the electoral process and protecting the rights of eligible voters. Under state law, people registering to vote must provide identifying information under penalty of perjury. Voter identity is established before registered voters get to the polls; at the polls, registered voters are only required to provide their name and address – no further identification is required. While a person’s eligibility to vote can be challenged, a challenge can only be brought by certain election workers and only on narrow, well-supported grounds. These requirements are uniform statewide, reducing potential voter confusion. 

Unlawfully departing from this legal framework, Huntington Beach’s voter ID law purportedly allows the city to require additional identification from voters before they can exercise their right to vote. By authorizing this requirement, Huntington Beach’s voter ID law conflicts with state law and threatens to unlawfully disenfranchise voters at the polls.

A copy of the complaint is available here.

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