The Attorney General of Texas and Tarrant Coun are putting a Mexican national on trial for voting illegally. Rosa Maria Ortega (37) was indicted in November 2015 for “Illegal Voting,” which is a felony in the Lone Star State. She is now facing trial for the offense.
 
Ortega stands accused of voting in the November 2012 General Election and in the May 2014 Primary Run-off Election, according to a Tarrant County indictment. She did so, according to the indictment, even “when she knew she was not a United States citizen.” According to an NBC article from 2015, Ortega had previously applied to vote in Tarrant County but was rejected after she said she was not a US citizen. Five months later, Ortega applied again to Tarrant County five months later and claimed she was a citizen. She was then granted the ability to vote. She did not vote in Tarrant County, but did vote in Dallas County.
 
Ortega did not vote in the 2016 presidential election, according to officials. She was indicted by a Tarrant County grand jury in November 2015. Ortega is married to an American citizen and is a legal permanent resident. 
 
In the Texas Penal Code is a law that became effective in 2012, which provides that the offense of “Illegal Voting,” is committed where a person:
 
votes or attempts to vote in an election in which the person knows the person is not eligible to vote;
 
knowingly votes or attempts to vote more than once in an election;
 
knowingly impersonates another person and votes or attempts to vote as the impersonated person; or
 
knowingly marks or attempts to mark another person’s ballot without the consent of that person.
 
The offense is a felony of the second degree unless the person is convicted of the lesser offense of attempt. The latter would be a state jail felony.
 
Ortega is facing Judge Robb Catalano of the Tarrant County Criminal District Court Number 3. A Republican appointee, Catalano was once an assistant district attorney in Tarrant County. 
 
Former Executive Deputy Commissioner for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission Gregg Phillips tweeted after the general election that believes that more than 3 million votes were “cast by non-citizens.” He said that he was joining the TrueTheVote organization to initiate legal action. TrueTheVote bills itself as “nation’s largest nonpartisan, voters’ rights and election integrity organization.” It was founded by Catherine Engelbrecht, who has been affiliated with the Tea Party movement.
 
When Donald Trump himself said that he believed that millions of invalid votes were cast, TrueTheVote released a statement saying it supports his comments, particularly in that illegal votes cost Trump the popular vote. “We are still collecting data and will be for several months, but our intent is to publish a comprehensive study on the significant impact of illegal voting in all of its many forms and begin a national discussion on how voters, states, and the Trump Administration can best address this growing problem,” according to a TrueTheVote statement.
 
Trump has called for an investigation. Today, he announced that Vice President Mike Pence will lead a commission to pursue that investigation. 
 
As for Phillips, he told CNN last month that while he will not release any further information at this time about possible voter fraud, he believes that the number fraudulent voters is much higher than 3 million. Phillips is also on the board of TrueTheVote. Phillips is the founder of a mobile app called VoteStand, which allows Americans to report and read about suspected incidents of voter fraud at nearby and national polls.


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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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