POLITICS

Reports of Dirty-Trick Robocalls in California

Democratic Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez emerges from a voting booth after casting her ballot at Santiago Elementary School in Santa Ana, Calif. on  Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010.  (AP Photo/The Orange County Register, H. Lorren Au Jr. )

Democratic Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez emerges from a voting booth after casting her ballot at Santiago Elementary School in Santa Ana, Calif. on Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010. (AP Photo/The Orange County Register, H. Lorren Au Jr. )  (The Orange County Register. Los Angeles Times OUT.)

In the last hours of a pretty nasty political season, reports are surfacing of a dirty-tricks campaign aimed at keeping Spanish-speaking voters home from the polls in California. The New York Times reported that, according to the Election Protection Coalition, an association of voting rights groups that monitored voting complaints, robocalls had gone out telling people to vote on Wednesday.

According to the Sacramento Bee’s Capitol Alert! Blog, however, the office of the Secretary of State said the calls could not be confirmed.

"The secretary of state takes these allegations very seriously," spokeswoman Shannan Velayas told the Bee. "We are asking anyone who may have a recording to share it with the secretary of state's office because our investigators have not heard an actual recording."

This isn’t the first time these sorts of accusations have been raised in California. In 2006, campaign workers in the office of Tan Nguyen, who was then running against Rep. Loretta Sanchez, sent a letter to 14,000 voters with Latino surnames, saying that immigrants were not allowed to vote and could be deported for doing so. Nguyen claimed the letter was mistranslated; a jury deadlocked this August on charges he was lying, and a federal prosecutor has announced plans to retry the case.