A permanent U.S. resident living in Texas has been sentenced to eight years in prison for illegally voting, a punishment that will probably result in the woman’s deportation after she completes her sentence.
On Wednesday, a Tarrant County, Tex., jury convicted 37-year-old Rosa Maria Ortega on two felony charges of illegal voting, for casting a ballot as a noncitizen in 2012 and 2014. Ortega is a green-card holder who was brought to the United States from Mexico when she was an infant, her attorney said.
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.
“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,” Paxton said in a statement. “Safeguarding the integrity of our elections is essential to preserving our democracy.”
However, Ortega’s lawyer and others said the punishment was unusually harsh and meant to appease those who are “swept up in the Trump hysteria where he is trying to find an explanation for why he lost the popular vote.”
President Trump has alleged, without evidence, that he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton because 3 million to 5 million illegal ballots were cast against him.
Though his claims about widespread voter fraud have been debunked, that has not stopped Trump from resurrecting them, most recently this past week while speaking with senators in New Hampshire.
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