So far, this would seem to be a routine story, just another example of a politician who didn't pay enough attention to the folks back home, or how his district was changing. But there is more to the story. Dornan charged that Sanchez's margin came from non-citizens, and an investigation by the House of Representatives found that 547 non-citizens had voted in the election.
Some believe that far more non-citizens voted, who were not detected. John Fund, in Stealing Elections, says that:
An INS investigation in 1996 into alleged Motor Voter fraud in California's Forty-sixth Congressional District revealed that "4,023 illegal voters possibly cast ballots in the disputed election between Republican Robert Dornan and Democrat Loretta Sanchez."
Unfortunately, Fund does not provide an end note for that quotation, though he does for most others in the book. The 4,023 is a larger number than I have seen in other accounts, though I have seen claims that more than 2,000 non-citizens were registered to vote in the district. The authoritative Almanac of American Politics (1998 edition) says only that "it is possible that Dornan has a case", which is as far as I would go, too.
But the Almanac has more to say about how many of those non-citizens got on the rolls, and that part of the story is also instructive.
Dornan brought his case to the House Contested Elections Task Force, which in February 1997 issued many subpoenas and promised a hearing in Orange County. Dornan argued that there were 1,789 illegal voters, and by Spring 1997 came up with proof that 547 non-citizens voted in Orange County and that 303 ineligibles had been registered to vote in the 46th District by Hermandad Nacional Mexicana;
this fell short of proving the result was wrong, but raised questions about the netherworld of voter registration in Orange County. California's registration laws make it easy to get anyone on the voter rolls (the accused assassin of Mexican presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio was a registered Democrat in San Pedro), and the Clinton Administration INS made great efforts to process new citizens and dispensed with the usual check for criminal records if the FBI did not respond within sixty days.
Hermandad Nacional Mexicana was running an interesting operation in Orange County.
Moreover, Dornan's attorney, Michael Schroeder, claims the taxpayer-funded English and citizenship classes were being illegally used for political purposes. In addition to being taught verb conjugations and the fundamentals of the U.S. Constitution, students in Hermandad's classes were receiving political indoctrination and being registered to vote even if they didn't meet the legal requirements.
And it was not just Dornan who found an irregularity or two in the group's registrations. So did the Los Angeles Times and an independent organization, the Fair Elections Group.
Taxpayers will be pleased to learn that Hermandad Nacional Mexicana was not only a non-profit organization, in spite of its activities, but was subsidized by grants from a variety of governments. And those who have read this site for some time will not be surprised that nearly all of those registered by the organization requested absentee ballots. As we have learned again and again, absentee ballots are the choice of most who commit vote fraud....