A non-citizen has been convicted of illegally voting in a Texas election, a crime that carries an eight-year prison sentence and a $5,000 fine.
Attorney General Ken Paxton today announced a jury in Tarrant County has convicted Rosa Maria Ortega – a Mexican national – of illegal voting by a non-citizen.
Paxton released a statement regarding the conviction:
“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. Safeguarding the integrity of our elections is essential to preserving our democracy.”
The Attorney General’s Office and the Tarrant County District Attorney’s office jointly prosecuted Ortega’s case. During her trial, it was revealed she falsely claimed U.S. citizenship on a voter registration form in Dallas County and then illegally cast ballots at least five times between 2004 and 2014.
Presently, it is unclear why Dallas County Election officials did not catch the error, allowing Ortega to repeatedly vote illegally. The trial suggests it’s because she checked the incorrect box on her registration form, which states that failure to provide correct information is a crime.
Ortega raised suspicion when she attempted to register in Tarrant County, where election officials rejected her application after she admitted she was a non-citizen. If she had not voluntarily checked a different box on the form, it’s possible Tarrant County Election officials would have made the same oversight as officials in Dallas.
Ortega’s case is wholly separate and unrelated to the AG’s ongoing criminal investigation into an alleged voter-fraud operation in Tarrant County. That case, according to Direct Action Texas, involves an operation of harvesters that targeted low-income, elderly voters and involves as many as 20,000 fraudulent mail-in ballots cast over several election cycles.