Voter Fraud and Punishment
- Author: Eleanor Harrison Feb 14, 2017,
Feb 14, 2017, 0:18
But one person who actually did commit voter fraud - to vote for the Republican candidate - has just been sentenced to eight years in prison.
Rosa Maria Ortega, a legal permanent resident, was found guilty of illegally voting in the 2012 general election and the 2014 Republican primary.
Birdsall said Ortega has voted in five elections since 2004, each time casting only a single ballot.
President Donald Trump has doubled down on his party's insistence that voter fraud is an issue. Birdsall said he wanted to steer the jury of 10 women and two men from any lingering thoughts about Trump's unproven claims that 3 million people illegally voted in 2016 but the judge wouldn't allow him.
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.
Ms. Ortega moved to neighboring Tarrant County and again registered, but this time checked a box affirming that she was not a citizen.
"She doesn't know. She's got this [green] card that says "resident" on it, so she doesn't mark that she's not a citizen", Birdsall said. "As a mother I think that would be a hard choice for her", Birdsall said.
"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.
The data (or lack thereof) makes it all the more noteworthy when a case of voter fraud is discovered.
A Dallas County election official said Ortega said she was a citizen in her voter registration application.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) has applauded the ruling as a crackdown on voter fraud.
Told that she could not vote unless she was a citizen, she asked for another application, and returned it with a check in the box affirming citizenship. "We would not be here today had she not picked up the phone and called [Tarrant County elections clerk] Delores Stevens".
Ortega's conviction spotlights growing public concern over voter fraud.
Birdsall said the Texas attorney general's office had agreed to leniency in exchange for Ortega testifying to lawmakers about illegal voting, but said Tarrant County District Attorney Sharon Wilson quashed those talks.
The sentencing has thrust questions about voter fraud - as well as a controversial voter-ID law in Texas - back into the spotlight.