A hearing officer on Monday concluded that voter fraud occurred during Vernon's June City Council election, throwing out seven of the 64 ballots cast and declaring a new winner in the race.
The decision by former Superior Court Judge Debra Yang came after an unusual hearing process last month at City Hall in which dozens of voters were questioned about their commuting patterns, financial histories and even Facebook pages. Yang concluded that five of the voters in question were not residents of the city. Two others, she said, did not properly mail in their ballots.
If approved by the City Council, the decision would tilt the race in favor of candidate Luz Martinez, a former secretary to Vernon's top administrator, who had trailed 34 votes to 30. It would also reverse a previous decision made by the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder, which dismissed the voter challenges this summer and called the race for Martinez' opponent, Reno Bellamy.