Republicans raise concern of voter fraud in Orange County, statewide election

imagesTop Republicans have questioned the integrity of the California’s election results in recent days, forcing the state’s top election official to dismiss the allegations.

Leaders in the state party are concerned about local elections, particularly in one important Orange County state Senate race.

But President-elect Donald Trump fanned the flames by tweeting California was one of three states with “serious” voter fraud. His Sunday tweet followed another sent hours earlier claiming that he’d “won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.” 

So far, Trump has offered no proof to his claims, which were dismissed in great detail by PolitiFact California. Secretary of State Alex Padilla immediately sent a press release disavowing the claim: “It appears that Mr. Trump is troubled by the fact that a growing majority of Americans did not vote for him. His unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud in California and elsewhere are absurd.”


California Republican Party Chairman Jim Brulte told party officials in an internal email obtained by CalWatchdog that the state has a history of “anomalies” that “deserve further scrutiny.” Brulte added that he believed “most of the government officials charged with ensuring voter and ballot integrity are good people who want to do the right thing.”

Brulte cited several incidents throughout the years, but came back to a recent election in Orange County — which ultimately gave Democrats a legislative supermajority — where voter turnout “increased in some cases up to 30 percent over the 2012 election.”

The Orange County Registrar of Voters attributed the spike in turnout percentage to a cleanup of the voter roll. 

Orange County’s history

California Republicans point back to a 1996 congressional race in Orange County, were 624 non-citizens voted after having registered illegally, according to a congressional investigation. In that race, the Democratic challenger, Loretta Sanchez, defeated the Republican incumbent, Bob Dornan, by less than 1,000 votes.

“That was before online registration, late registration, a boom in illegal residency, driver’s licenses to illegal aliens, and other trends,” said Harmeet K. Dhillon, a member of the Republican National Committee from California. “Logically, the numbers are much higher today and the state seems deliberately to make it difficult to verify eligibility to vote and also takes little to no interest in preventing fraudulent voting.”

Ways to improve?

Dhillon said Republicans are concerned that the current online voter registration system doesn’t track the computer’s ISP address, which helps detect fraud, and that users can self-verify citizenship with a driver license number, which are issued to non-citizens.

Dhillon said Republicans believe new voters should verify citizenship, not just check off a box. 

Nothing to see here

But the Secretary of State’s office holds that there’s no problem. A spokesman told CalWatchdog that the SOS “already conducts routine security assessments of our systems,” but declined to give specifics.

Many election law experts say there is no evidence of widespread problem voter fraud. Jessica Levinson, a law professor at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, said Trump’s claims did not happen and “lack any evidence or grounding in reality.” 

An investigation into what happened in Orange County may be worthwhile, Levinson said, but added that increased turnout itself isn’t enough to allege voter fraud.

“There are plenty of reasons this election cycle as to why people in Orange County would be motivated to go to the polls.” 

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