Rosa Maria Ortega of Grand Prairie, Texas is in hot water. She’s broken the law five times. The crime…she voted.
The Dallas-Fort Worth NBC affiliate is reporting that Ortega was arrested last week after she illegally voted. Ortega is not an illegal immigrant. She “is married to an American and is living legally in this country but is not a citizen and therefore, not qualified to vote,” said Harry White, an attorney for Tarrant County, TX.
This was clearly not a misunderstanding on Ortega’s part or an oversight on any Texas officials who would have approved her voting status. Ortega applied to vote in Tarrant County but was told she couldn’t because she honestly reported that she was not a citizen. The issue should have ended there. But Ortega then went to nearby Dallas County and applied again, this time claiming to be a US citizen. Dallas County records show that Ortega did indeed vote there. In fact, Ortega voted five times between 2004 and 2014 including at least two Republican party primaries.
Ortega is currently spending some time in the Tarrant County Jail held on a $10,000 bond. If convicted, she faces a possible prison sentence of between two and 20 years for this 2nd-degree felony.
The issue of voter fraud comes up almost every election season but is especially intense in presidential election years. This year is no exception. Republicans typically advocate for a voter ID requirement to be able to vote. Thirty states currently have such laws on the books. But Democrats typically advocate against this policy arguing that these types of laws suppress the vote of lower income and racially diverse voters. In this case, if Ortega had been required to show proof of citizenship, then her voter registration would have been denied. But instead, she learned in Tarrant County that if she is honest, then she can’t vote. So she simply lied and then illegally participated in a system constitutionally designed for US citizens. This is a perfect example of why voter ID laws are essential.