GARDEN GROVE — Rep. Loretta Sanchez on Thursday ridiculed a call for her resignation by former congressman Robert K. Dornan and said Congress will not overturn her victory despite claims by Republicans that nearly 2,500 noncitizens voted in last year's Sanchez-Dornan election.
"I think Dornan is dreaming," Sanchez said in a telephone interview.
At a news conference Wednesday, Dornan used a report from California Secretary of State Bill Jones to support his claim that the 1996 election was stolen from him by voting irregularities.
Earlier on Wednesday, Jones announced finding 2,474 voters among names on a congressional committee's list of suspected noncitizens who were registered to vote for 1996 in the 46th Congressional District. Jones made no determination, however, on the citizenship status of the voters or whether they were entitled to vote.
The secretary of state's office said it received no information about the citizenship status of the 4,761 names sent by the House Oversight Committee before it compared them with the voting list for the 1996 election.
The Oversight Committee has been investigating the election since Dornan contested the results a year ago. If the panel finds enough illegal ballots to throw the results into doubt, it can recommend to the full House that the seat be vacated and a special election called.
Sanchez (D-Garden Grove) beat Dornan by 984 votes.
Oversight Committee Chairman William M. Thomas (R-Bakersfield), who declined comment on Jones' report Wednesday, could not be reached for comment on Thursday.
But Rep. Sam Gejdensen (D-Conn.), ranking minority member of the Oversight Committee, said in a statement that he is "deeply concerned about mischaracterizations" of Jones' findings.
In addition, Gejdensen's statement said that nearly 40% of the voters identified by Jones "are not registered Democrats. To the extent these people voted, Mr. Dornan likely benefited, not Congresswoman Sanchez."
Dornan has said that it is "the most outrageous spin" to suggest that noncitizens who broke the law to cast ballots would have voted for him.
The list of names are not available to the public.
Representatives for Jones and Thomas have said that the names on the list of registered voters cannot be released because of privacy rights guaranteed the people by the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
In responding to the release of Jones' report, Sanchez said Congress would "absolutely not" vote to unseat her.
"It was best said by Jones: They do not know if they are illegal [voters] or not," she said. "And guess what, the INS does not know the status of the individuals either."
She challenged the Oversight Committee to release a list of names that could be verified. She said matches or near matches between names on the county voter rolls and names that appear on INS lists as noncitizens would not show that the election should be overturned.
"We still come back to the same key problem: Republicans have to go out and go door to door and find these people and ask them if they are citizens or not," she said.
Michael Schroeder, one of Dornan's lawyers and state GOP chairman, said that the nearly 2,500 are matches between voters in the 46th District and "highly probable noncitizens" as determined by the Oversight Committee working with INS electronic and paper files.
"When Congress comes back from recess [in January] there will be a historic vote" to overturn the results of the election, he said. "We have vindicated Bob Dornan and the voters of the 46th District."
Times staff writer Jodi Wilgoren contributed to this report.