A Mexican citizen, sentenced in Fort Worth, Texas, to eight years in prison for voter fraud, claims that she did not understand the law when she voted illegally.
A jury found Rosa Maria Ortega, 37, guilty Wednesday on two counts of illegal voting. The woman claimed to be a United States citizen when she voted at least five times between 2012 and 2014, Fox News reports.
On Thursday, Ortega was sentenced to eight years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Ortega reportedly voted in the November 2012 election and May 2014 GOP primary runoff in Dallas County. Her registration was cancelled in April 2015, but by that time she already voted five times.
— Jim Roberts (@nycjim) February 11, 2017
It wasn’t until the Mexican national tried twice to register to vote in Tarrant County that authorities began to take notice. Both of those applications were denied.
Ortega was born in Monterrey, Mexico. Her mother brought her to the United States while she was still an infant. She claims that her mother taught her nothing about citizenship and the difference between a resident and a citizen. She says that she would have done things the right way had she understood what she was doing.
“My mom just used us to get stamps. She never gave us love or guidance. She got deported. All my life since I worked, I always on my knowledge thought I was a U.S. citizen because I never knew the difference of U.S. citizen and U.S. resident. And the point is if I knew, everything would’ve been the correct way.”
Prosecutors showed that Ortega claimed to be a resident on her driver’s license but she claimed to be a citizen while registering to vote.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton helped to prosecute Ortega, though she voted for him in 2014.
“This case shows how serious Texas is about keeping its elections secure, and the outcome sends a message that violators of the state’s election law will be prosecuted to the fullest.”
The case comes months after President Donald Trump’s claims that illegal voting cost him the popular vote, according to a report by the Chicago Tribune.
Ortega’s attorney, Clark Birdsall, believes that the “pro-Trump” attitudes in Tarrant County, in which Trump received 52 percent of the vote.
Sam Jordon, a spokesperson for Tarrant County District Attorney Sharon Wilson, insists that the prosecution was only concerned with voter rights, and not immigration. The decision was left up to the jury which “decided pretty clearly how important they think voting rights are.”
[Feature Photo: Tarrant County PD]