A day after being convicted for falsely claiming to be a USA citizen and voting five times between 2004 and 2014, a Tarrant County jury on Thursday sentenced Rosa Maria Ortega to eight years in jails and ordered to pay an $5,000 fine.
The decision was hailed by some - including Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R), who prosecuted the case - as a sign the state intends to crack down on voter fraud.
He points out his niece has spent nearly her entire life in the U.S. Her attorney said she has a learning disability and was confused about the difference between being a citizen and a legal resident, so she thought she was allowed to vote.
My mom just used us to get stamps.
The sentence was announced weeks after President Donald Trump vowed he would crack down on voter fraud. Trump painted the supposed phenomenon in hostile, often racial, terms during the election, saying fraud originated with undocumented immigrants and in urban areas.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, whom Ortega cast her ballot for in a 2014 election, helped in the prosecution.
White told CBS11, when Ortega tried to register to vote in Tarrant County, she admitted she was not a citizen, so her application was rejected.
"It's a single vote that she's casting" each time, Birdsall said. Birdsall added that "this country is so inflamed by this Donald Trump nonsense that they've turned her into a whipping boy".
According to the New York Times, Ortega was born in Monterrey, Mexico and brought to the U.S.by her mother as an infant.
Research, however, has shown that in-person fraud at the polls is extremely rare, and critics of these restrictions warn that they will hurt mostly poor people, minorities and students - all of whom tend to vote Democratic - as well as the elderly.
The issue for Ortega was simple: people with "permanent resident" status are not permitted to vote in national, state, or local elections that require citizenship to cast a ballot.
The data (or lack thereof) makes it all the more noteworthy when a case of voter fraud is discovered. She never gave us love or guidance. He said Ortega had learning disabilities and only a sixth-grade education. "Yes she does. And she thought it was important enough to go forward to a jury and let the jury of citizens decide, and they decided pretty clearly how important they think voting rights are".
Prior to her conviction, Ortega was a registered Republican.
Ortega was sentenced to eight years and a $5,000 fine on each count. "She got deported", she said.
"If I knew, everything would have been done the correct way", Ortega testified.