December 28, 1996 in Nation/World

Non-Citizens Admit Voting In Disputed Election Dornan’s Complaints After Narrow Loss No Longer Just Sour Grapes

V. Dion Haynes Chicago Tribune
 

After a humiliating loss of his congressional seat to a political novice, nine-term Rep. Robert Dornan was dismissed by many as a sore loser for his seemingly outlandish allegations of voter fraud.

But one day after the Orange County Republican filed an official challenge of the results with the House of Representatives, a published report Friday lent some credibility to Dornan’s theory that non-citizens voted for his opponent, Democrat Loretta Sanchez, on Nov. 5.

The Los Angeles Times reported that 19 Orange County residents admitted to the newspaper that they registered and cast ballots even though they had not yet become naturalized citizens. Under state law, voting by a non-citizen is a felony, an offense that could be punishable by deportation.

Dornan, 63, who lost by 979 votes, claims in his complaint to the House that hundreds of non-citizens and felons cast ballots, costing him the election. He wants the House either to hold a new election or overturn the results, declaring him the winner.

Soon after the election, Dornan made what seemed like outrageous accusations even for him: that an organized effort by the Democratic Party and a Latino civil rights group to register voters could have led to “the first case in history where a congressional election was decided by non-citizens.”

But in the Los Angeles Times report, 18 of the 19 non-citizens who allegedly voted in the November election were affiliated with an Orange County group, Hermandad Mexicana Nacional. The 18 people took citizenship classes at the organization, where they allegedly were given voter registration forms and prompted to vote.

In a state unaccustomed to widespread voter fraud, the allegations that non-citizens voted have sparked outrage even from those who had dismissed Dornan as extreme.

According to the Times report, Hermandad registered 916 people to vote and 585 of them cast ballots.

The 18 people said that officials at the organization urged them to register and vote, even though they had not been sworn in as U.S. citizens. Some said they registered shortly after they passed English proficiency and civics exams, and did not know they were apparently doing something illegal.

The report, however, does not indicate that the non-citizens were urged to vote for Sanchez, a financial analyst and former Republican.


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