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California City Voters Approve Voter ID and Flag Restrictions in Early Polls

California City Voters Approve Voter ID and Flag Restrictions in Early Polls

Huntington Beach city officials gather with residents to discuss housing issues with the state in Huntington Beach, Calif., on Feb. 14, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Rudy Blalock

Rudy Blalock

3/6/2024

Updated: 3/8/2024

Huntington Beach ballot Measures A and B, which seek to require voter ID and ballot drop box monitoring for future elections and require a unanimous city council vote to fly new flags, continue to be winning in early March 5 primary results.
According to a March 6 late afternoon update from the Orange County Registrar, Measure A has 54 percent of the vote and Measure B has 58 percent, as of 5 p.m. March 6.
The Huntington Beach City Council voted 4 to 3 in October to place the questions before voters, with the city’s conservative majority in favor.
A third initiative—Measure C—is currently losing with 52 percent of voters opposed. It would require the city to adopt a two-year budget, require a unanimous city council vote to cancel a council meeting, and update how a vacant city council seat is filled, among other things.
Mayor Gracey Van Der Mark told The Epoch Times March 6 she wasn’t surprised to see the preliminary results favoring the measures, since most constituents she and her fellow conservative councilors spoke with showed support for the changes.
“The people who voted for us had talked about their concerns with election integrity, so I’m not surprised that they came out to vote in favor,” she said.
Ms. Van Der Mark said the election results could potentially set a precedent for other cities and counties to adopt similar policies.
“The majority of people regardless of whether you’re Republican or Democrat, right or left, the majority do believe it’s common sense to ask for ID,” she said.
Last June, the Orange County Board of Supervisors adopted a policy only allowing government flags to be displayed on county properties. Huntington Beach, earlier in the year did the same—eliminating a previous council’s decision to fly the Pride flag during LGBT Pride month among other things. The same conservative majority voted to do so, they said at the time, to ensure residents are equally represented.
With a yes on Measure B, only the United States, the state of California, the County of Orange, the City of Huntington Beach, six Armed Forces, and the National League of Families POW-MIA flags would be flown at City Hall, with the addition of the Olympic flag flown during the Summer Olympic Games. Any other flag would require a unanimous city council vote to be added to the list.
Huntington Beach City Councilwoman Gracey Van Der Mark listens to public comments during a city council meeting at the Huntington Beach Civic Center in Huntington Beach, Calif., on Jan. 17, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Huntington Beach City Councilwoman Gracey Van Der Mark listens to public comments during a city council meeting at the Huntington Beach Civic Center in Huntington Beach, Calif., on Jan. 17, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Ms. Van Der Mark said the measure was put before voters to stop divisiveness among future city councils when choosing which flags should be flown at City Hall.
“Every time a council changes, we’re going to have the same issues and the people who are going to be affected the most are the residents … so in order to avoid that fear … if at any point this is being discussed again, and they want to make changes, let the voters decide,” she said.
The voter ID requirement would help residents feel secure in their votes, she said.
“In order to bring them back to the polling booth, if showing ID makes them feel more secure, then I believe that is something that is something we should do,” she said.
Preliminary results, as of Wednesday afternoon, show Huntington Beach had a 23.5 percent voter turnout.
Voting ballots move forward in the audit process at the Orange County Registrar's office in Santa Ana, Calif., on June 9, 2022. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Voting ballots move forward in the audit process at the Orange County Registrar's office in Santa Ana, Calif., on June 9, 2022. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

If passed, Measure A would authorize the City Council to require voter ID in future elections, provide at least 20 voting locations for in-person voting, and monitor ballot drop boxes in the city. Such changes could bring unknown costs to the city, according to the measure.
In a September letter, California Attorney General Rob Bonta and Secretary of State Shirley Weber—the state’s chief elections official—said the proposed election changes would suppress voters from participating in local elections.
“[T]he City’s proposal to require voter identification at the polls in municipal elections conflicts with state law and would only serve to suppress voter participation without providing any discernible local benefit,” they wrote.
Election results will be updated every weekday at 5 p.m. until they are finalized, according to the registrar’s website.
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Rudy Blalock

Rudy Blalock

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Rudy Blalock is a Southern California-based daily news reporter for The Epoch Times. Originally from Michigan, he moved to California in 2017, and the sunshine and ocean have kept him here since. In his free time, he may be found underwater scuba diving, on top of a mountain hiking or snowboarding—or at home meditating, which helps fuel his active lifestyle.

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