Voter Fraud and Punishment

A permanent USA resident living in Texas was sentenced to eight years in prison for illegally voting in multiple elections over several years, including for Mitt Romney in 2012, though not in the 2016 election.

During her trial it was revealed that Rosa Marie Ortega falsely claimed USA citizenship on a voter registration form in Dallas County and then cast ballots five times between 2004 and 2014.

A Texas woman was sentenced Thursday to eight years in prison for illegal voting, The Dallas Morning News reported.

She testified that at the time she voted she did not understand the differences between the rights granted to a citizen and a legal resident.

The green card holder said she thought she had the right to vote, though she received a letter in October 2013 from the Tarrant County elections office.

According to the New York Times, Ortega was born in Monterrey, Mexico and brought to the her mother as an infant.

Birdsall said the Texas attorney general's office had agreed to leniency in exchange for Ortega testifying to lawmakers about illegal voting, but said the Tarrant County district attorney, Sharon Wilson, quashed those talks. "All my life since I worked, I always on my knowledge thought I was a US citizen because I never knew the difference of USA citizen and US resident".

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Ortega's voter registration in Dallas County was canceled in April 2015 when elections officials learned she had registered to vote in Tarrant County. A subsequent investigation found she had voted when she wasn't supposed to in Dallas County, the NBC affiliate reported.

Ortega did not vote in the 2016 presidential election, Birdsall, told The Washington Post.

"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", he said, Fox News reported. "Safeguarding the integrity of our elections is essential to preserving our democracy", he responds.

Birdsall said Ortega has voted in five elections since 2004, she voted for Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election and then for Ken Paxton for Texas attorney general in a 2014 Republican primary runoff.

The Tarrant County district attorney used the case as an example of why stricter laws were needed. A strict voter identity law that Texas passed was struck down by a federal court previous year, which found that it discriminated against black and Latino people who could not get the required documentation. In January, the Supreme Court declined to review the ruling.

According to research carried out by PoliticFact in 2015, there have been 85 prosecutions in Texas for voter fraud since 2002, accounting for just 0.000001% of the 72m votes cast in the state between 2000 and 2014.