Some voters in Huntington Beach want to introduce voter ID for future elections A conservative city in California wants to buck state law and introduce voter ID for its future elections.

Some voters in Huntington Beach want to introduce voter ID for future elections

Some voters in Huntington Beach want to introduce voter ID for future elections

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A conservative city in California wants to buck state law and introduce voter ID for its future elections.


In recent years, many Republican-led states have enacted rules requiring voters to show ID when casting a ballot. And now in predominantly liberal California, one city's conservative leaders want to do the same. Jill Replogle of the LAist has this report from Huntington Beach.

JILL REPLOGLE, BYLINE: On this Super Tuesday, Huntington Beach residents will decide whether the city can ask voters to show ID in future elections. This would be a big departure from state law, which says as long as you show ID when you register to vote, you don't have to do it again at the actual polling place. Justin Levitt is a professor at Loyola Law School.

JUSTIN LEVITT: The vast majority of the identification process happens at registration in order to make it as smooth as possible when you walk in the door - for you to say, I am X person. I live at X address. I'm registered to vote. You can find me on the rolls. And then you're able to vote.

REPLOGLE: California officials have warned Huntington Beach that the city's voter ID proposal would not fly under state law. Secretary of State Shirley Weber reiterated that warning last week.


SHIRLEY WEBER: We will, if necessary, basically find ourselves in court because it is against the law of California to have additional requirements for voting and disenfranchise people as a result of that.

REPLOGLE: Huntington Beach, which leans conservative, is no stranger to butting heads with California state leaders, most of whom are Democrats. This is especially true since an ultra-conservative majority took over the Huntington Beach City Council in 2022. Mayor Gracey Van Der Mark helped craft the voter ID measure. She and other supporters say it will help boost security and confidence among people who are skeptical of the election system.

GRACEY VAN DER MARK: A lot of people are not voting because they said, my vote doesn't count. I keep voting, and we just keep losing. If asking for ID will restore the faith in our elections to where people are going to get out and vote, then we should do it.

REPLOGLE: Research on the effect of voter ID laws is mixed. That's in part because the rules vary a lot among the 37 states that ask voters to show ID at the polls. Some require an official photo ID, like a driver's license. Others, like Alaska, will take a hunting license or a utility bill. Some research has shown that low-income people, people of color and young people are less likely to have a government-issued photo ID than people who are older, wealthier and white. Van Der Mark, the Huntington Beach mayor, is Latina. She says she's offended when opponents suggest that asking for voter ID is racist.

VAN DER MARK: I came from a low-income minority community, and I had an ID. We were just as capable as everybody else. As a matter of fact, the struggles that we go through make us very, very resourceful. So to me, it was insulting for them to say that just because we were poor or maybe had a little more melanin, we weren't capable of getting IDs.

REPLOGLE: City leaders who support the voter ID measure see it as a test of how much leeway the city has to make its own election rules. They've pointed to the nearby city of Santa Ana, where voters will decide in November whether to allow non-citizens to vote in local elections. Levitt, the law professor, says state law doesn't seem to preclude a city from expanding the electorate purely for local races. But he says Huntington Beach's voter ID proposal is different because it would restrict voting.

LEVITT: The election process courts watch pretty carefully to make sure that the franchise isn't being whittled down in a way other than the basic rules set by the state.

REPLOGLE: Huntington Beach residents who oppose the voter ID measure are also concerned about the cost. This could include fending off lawsuits and potentially having to buy equipment, train poll workers and run its own elections. For NPR News, I'm Jill Replogle in Huntington Beach, Calif.


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