A Mexican national has been sentenced to eight years in prison for voting in at least five U.S. elections in Texas.
Rosa Maria Ortega is a legal resident of the United States. However, she is not a citizen — and therefore it is illegal for her to vote:
Ortega was found guilty Wednesday on two counts of voter fraud after having falsely claimed to be a U.S. citizen and voting at least five times between 2012 and 2014. In addition to the eight year prison sentence, she was ordered to pay a $5,000 fine.
However, Ortega claims her crime was an honest mistake. She didn’t know she was breaking the law — because she didn’t realize she wasn’t a U.S. citizen:
“My mom just used us to get stamps. She never gave us love or guidance. She got deported. All my life since I worked, I always on my knowledge thought I was a U.S. citizen because I never knew the difference of U.S. citizen and U.S. resident. And the point is if I knew, everything would’ve been the correct way.”
If Ortega really did make this mistake, how many other residents — both legal and illegal — have done the same? According to a study published in the Electoral Studies Journal in 2014, between 38,000 and 2.8 million votes were cast by “non-citizens” in the 2008 election.
Could voter fraud have actually cost Donald Trump the popular vote? It’s certainly a possibility.