Meet Joanne Acker, one of the people former Rep. Robert K. Dornan accuses of voting twice in the November election that sent him packing.
Acker is a Republican. She voted for Dornan. And she lives with her twin sister, Jeanne, another Dornan supporter.
County records show that the illegal ballot Dornan contends was cast by Joanne was in fact legitimately cast by Jeanne.
"If the Dornan people really wanted to know, they could have called," Joanne Acker said. "Even my mother gets us mixed up sometimes."
So goes much of the evidence of "double voting" presented by Dornan in his case to unseat Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove.)
In papers filed with Congress, which is weighing his formal challenge to Sanchez's election, Dornan contends to have "documented" 38 cases of "double voters" and another 39 cases of people who he says illegally voted outside their home precincts.
The cases make up part of Dornan's overall contention that he lost to Sanchez by 984 votes last November because of widespread voting fraud.
But interviews with voters and a review of public records suggest that Dornan's contentions of workplace voting and double voting are of little merit.
While The Times found five cases where voters may have cast illicit ballots, the overwhelming majority of the 77 cases cited by Dornan involved either legitimate votes or could not be verified one way or another.
The Times found that among the 38 people Dornan contended voted twice were many people who appeared to have cast legitimate ballots, including:
* Twins with similar names.
* Fathers and sons with nearly identical names.
* Individuals who registered twice, but who voted only once.
Of the 39 people Dornan accused of illegally registering to vote using their business address instead of their home, as state law requires, The Times found:
* People who live at their businesses.
* People who live in apartments sharing the same street numbers as businesses.
* People who share what seems like the same street address as a business--but are actually in a different city.
The Times review found that Dornan submitted misspelled voter names and placed some voters in the wrong cities.
Many of the people whom Dornan accused of voter fraud said they had, in fact, voted for Dornan.
And many of the people interviewed by The Times said they were learning of the contentions for the first time, and that no one from Dornan's office had ever contacted them.
"I voted for Dornan five or six times in the past, and now he's disputing my vote?" asked Larry Rowenhorst of Santa Ana, who Dornan accused of voting from his business. "How asinine can you get?"
Bill Hart, a Dornan attorney who is leading the effort to unseat Sanchez, said he was not surprised by the errors. He said Dornan's camp was eager to make its case against Sanchez and was facing tight deadlines.
"We were just running data at that point," Hart said of the information his staff submitted to Congress in February. "What you are going to find is that some of the information pans out, and some of it doesn't."
Hart said the Dornan camp was still busy compiling information and would substantiate its contentions of double voting. As for the list of people allegedly voting out of businesses, he said he was less sure.
"It may turn out that there are people who were misidentified," Hart said.
In all, The Times determined that three of the 38 people who Dornan contended voted twice may have cast illicit ballots. Two of those votes were cast by unregistered voters who used the registration of another family member--a father or a son--with the same name.
The third occurred when a woman, thinking that her absentee ballot was invalid, registered and voted a second time.
In all three cases, the people involved said they thought they were voting properly.
In a handful of cases, voters whose signatures appeared twice on voting rosters say they voted only once. In those cases, there was not enough evidence to either refute or corroborate their explanations.
The Times also found that two of the 39 people cited by Dornan registered and voted from their business addresses while living somewhere else. The overwhelming majority of the others appeared to have voted legitimately.
In all, Dornan contends that 1,789 invalid votes were cast--nearly twice Sanchez's winning margin. The bulk of those contentions are difficult to verify, because names and other material, such as immigration records, are either unavailable or incomplete. In other cases, the cases are difficult to verify because Dornan provided little or no evidence to back up his contention.
Dornan's principal contention is that 368 people registered and voted in the 46th Congressional District election before they became citizens. Dornan contends that another 152 people cast illegal ballots because, even though they were citizens by the time they voted, they registered to vote before they had completed the citizenship process.