Latinos Assail Story on Alleged Illegal Voting

The leaders of 12 prominent Latino organizations harshly criticized the Los Angeles Times on Thursday, contending that the newspaper had smeared the entire Latino community in Orange County by using flimsy evidence of a losing congressional candidate who said noncitizens voted illegally.

The activists were angered by a Dec. 27 report in The Times that 19 U.S. citizenship applicants registered to vote with the aid of a Latino civil rights group and later cast ballots.

The controversy developed after The Times reported that noncitizens voted in the district that included the contentious congressional race between Democrat Loretta Sanchez and Republican Robert K. Dornan, who lost by 984 votes.

Leonard Bernstein, managing editor for news of The Times' Orange County Edition, said The Times' information was independently obtained through interviews with 64 voters, 19 of whom said they registered to vote before being sworn in as citizens.

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