DALLAS (CBS11) – The family of a woman convicted of voter fraud is speaking out after a Tarrant County jury sentenced her to eight years in prison.
Prosecutors say the reason officials at the elections department in Dallas didn’t stop the voter fraud from happening is because Rosa Ortega claimed she was a citizen on her application.
Now the Tarrant County D.A.’s office is calling for those claims to be verified before handing out registration cards.
Ortega’s attorney said the mother of four will undoubtedly be deported.
“What’s going to happen to the kids? So it’s not fair,” Rosa’s uncle, Felipe Ortega said.
He points out his niece has spent almost 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.
“The jury didn’t believe that story. They believed that the defendant knew exactly what she was doing, and they responded accordingly,” Prosecutor Jonathan White said.
White told CBS11, when Ortega tried to register to vote in Tarrant County, she admitted she was not a citizen, so her application was rejected. When she told them she had already been voting in Dallas County, that’s when investigators started looking into her case. Defense attorney Clark Bidsall said his client’s case has been politicized and now Ortega has a difficult road ahead even after her sentence.
“Once she gets out of prison and she’s deported, does she bring her four minor children to Mexico? As a mother I think that would be a difficult choice for her,” Birdsall said.
“It’s going to be a big impact for them because now they’re going to have to go over there to visit their momma,” Felipe Ortega added.
Prosecutors said whether this case prompts elections officials to verify citizenship is an issue for the legislature. CBS11 asked Dallas elections officials to comment on the case, but they have not gotten back to us.
The jury also gave Ortega a $5,000 fine.
(©2017 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)