Non Citizens Voting in Your County?

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Wednesday, Fort Worth, TX.

A jury delivered a guilty verdict in a case with statewide implications both in terms of legal precedent & revealing cracks within the election process.

On the seventh floor of the Tim Curry Criminal Justice Center, Rosa Maria Ortega was found guilty on two counts of illegal voting and sentenced to 8 years. The first count was for the 2012 general election. The second was the 2014 Republican Primary Runoff. Ortega had voted in both elections while ineligible. (Not a citizen)

According to records by the Dallas County Elections Administrator Ortega voted in 5 elections total. However, because the statute of limitations in illegal voting cases is only 3 years from the date of the offense, Ortega could only be tried for the 2012 & 2014 elections.  The 2015 indictment came through just in time to try her for 2012.

Barely Caught
Ortega was caught because she moved to Tarrant County, sent in an application to register to vote, and marked “NO” on the citizenship question. This prompted a County Election Clerk to send Ortega a rejection letter. Stating, in no uncertain terms, that because she is not a citizen, she is ineligible to vote. Only citizens may vote.

However, Ortega pressed the issue. She called to demand a reason for her rejection. Reiterating the letter, the clerk stated that because Ortega indicated that she was not a U.S. citizen, she was rejected. A month later, Ortega then filled out a second registration application.  This time she made sure to check “YES” to the citizenship question. The clerk, remembering her non-citizenship status, forwarded the application to her supervisor who then referred it to the District Attorney.

If Ortega had simply accepted the rejection letter, and left the matter at that, NO ONE would have found out that she already voted 5 times and she most likely would have never been caught.

Worse yet, if Ortega had simply lied, and answered yes to the citizenship question on her first application, like she did in Dallas. She would still be voting to this day.

The Case

The central crux in this case was trying to prove whether or not Rosa Maria Ortega knew she was a citizen when she was voting and applying to register to vote.

Through-out the case the defense employed some questionable-at-best lines of defense. One was her alleged political ideology with her lawyer suggesting “She voted Republican! Like some of you might have” as if that would sway the jury.  He also argued the insignificance of her vote. It was only 1 stolen vote, “In the 2012 presidential election, Mitt Romney won Texas with over 1,000,000 votes.” He asked the prosecution, “Are you aware if it affected the outcomes of any election?” Referring to the Attorney General’s prosecutor, he quipped, “She probably voted for this guy’s boss!” All of these were mere attempts at excusing her crimes, not professions of her innocence.

Also employed by the defense were questions to Ortega’s brothers asking if they ever had any leadership or anyone in their family that explained their immigration status. Each saying, “nobody told us what we were” implying that Rosa Ortega thought that she was a citizen and that she wasn’t taught the differences between resident and  citizen.
Meanwhile, the prosecution pointed out that on at least 3 separate DPS and driver’s license documents over a number of years Ortega checked “NO” to the citizenship question. However, when it came to registering to vote in Dallas, or changing her registration address in Dallas, she’d check “YES” to citizenship.

Ortega knew full well what her immigration status was prior to the two offenses. When it came to filing out documents dealing with people who would check her immigration status, she’d tell the truth but would lie when she thought she wouldn’t get caught.

Broken Election Process

This case revealed something that should shock every Texan. Election Administrations in every county do not check the citizenship of those registering or those already registered to vote. They rely upon honesty when you answer that citizenship question.

Ms. Ortega was allowed to vote in 5 elections in Dallas County and attempted to continue to vote in Tarrant County, canceling out your voice & your vote.
As we’ve written and talked about in our other articles, voter fraud is real. But it’s hard to detect and difficult to find especially when the only thing in place to stop those who are ineligible is blind trust. Do you trust everyone to be honest, and check the right box when registering to vote? How many more people are already voting ineligibly that we don’t know about?
This verdict goes to show that Texans will not tolerate those who wish to undermine our elections. Do not let them take your right that was fought for, marched for, and even died for.

Given the magnitude of this issue, we must reform the election code. Call your legislators today and demand reform.

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