“Huntington Beach on collision course with California over voter ID requirement”

Cal Matters:

Huntington Beach voters are poised to adopt a pair of measures pushed by local leaders seeking to remake the Orange County city into a bastion of resistance against liberal California — likely setting up a showdown with the state over voting rights that could further galvanize conservatives.

With tens of thousands of ballots from the March election counted as of Wednesday evening, a charter amendment that would allow the city to require voter identification in municipal elections led 54% to 46%. Another to restrict which flags can fly on city property, effectively banning displays of the rainbow LGBTQ+ Pride flag, was winning with more than 58% of the vote.

Both proposals emerged from a new conservative majority on the city council, elected in 2022, which has spent the past year on a contentious campaign to reverse any past progressive governance that they argue is out of step with the community’s values. The crusade has thrust Huntington Beach into some of the country’s fiercest cultural battles, including over vaccine mandates, transgender athletes and library books.

“This is the direction that the community has been wanting to go,” said Mayor Gracey Van Der Mark, a Republican who led the effort to establish a committee to monitor library books for sexual content. “If they didn’t want this, they wouldn’t have voted and supported this.”

The election will not be the final word, however.

Last fall, Attorney General Rob Bonta and Secretary of State Shirley Weber, both Democrats, warned Huntington Beach officials that the voter ID proposal — which would take effect in 2026, and also grant the city authority to add more in-person voting locations and monitor ballot drop-boxes — conflicted with state law. They contend that requiring voter ID violates a provision in the election code that prohibits “mass, indiscriminate, and groundless challenging of voters solely for the purpose of preventing voters from voting.”

Despite a lawsuit from Huntington Beach resident Mark Bixby aiming to block the measure, a judge ruled that its legality could only be considered if it were to pass and allowed it onto the March ballot.

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