Here are some key questions surrounding the probe by the House Oversight Committee:
Q. What is the panel investigating?
A. Former Republican Rep. Robert K. Dornan contends he lost the 46th Congressional District to Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove) because of voting by noncitizens and other election irregularities. He asked the House to order a new election and a three-member House Contested Elections Task Force was appointed to investigate Dornan's allegations.
Q. Were votes illegally cast in the election?
A. Yes. A preliminary investigation by Secretary of State Bill Jones and the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service identified at least 303 people who cast "unlawful" votes. Most of those 303 voters registered with the help of Hermandad Mexicana Nacional, the Santa Ana Latino rights organization currently under investigation for its role in the election.
Q. What is Dornan's claim to Congress?
A. Dornan, who lost his election by 984 votes, contended in his complaint to Congress that his investigation has uncovered at least 1,789 questionable ballots cast.
Q. Will a new election be held? Who makes that decision?
A. Dornan must first prove that at least 984 improper votes were cast--representing his margin of defeat. To date, there appears to be insufficient evidence. Under the U.S. Constitution, Congress is the sole judge of the election of its members.
Q. When is the last time Congress overturned an election?
A. In 1984. A Democratic-controlled Congress stepped into a contested election in Indiana and handed victory to the Democratic candidate.
Q. What other groups are investigating alleged voter fraud? How will that impact the outcome?
A. The Orange County district attorney's office and Jones' office are conducting a joint criminal investigation. The chairman of the congressional panel said it would be wise to learn the results of the local and state investigation before reaching its own conclusions.