Eight-year sentence for US voter fraud convict

Rosa Maria Ortega, who voted illegally for Donald Trump, will likely be deported after her release

Eight-year sentence for US voter fraud convict

Rosa Maria Ortega was convicted of voter fraud in Texas [NBC]

Despite no evidence to support his claims about millions of people committing voter fraud in the US presidential election, Donald Trump’s administration continues to peddle the line. But one person who actually did commit voter fraud – to vote for the Republican candidate – has just been sentenced to eight years in prison.

Rosa Maria Ortega was convicted last week by a Texas court of two felony charges of illegal voting, after casting a vote in two elections in 2012 and 2014. Ortega, a green-card holder originally from Mexico, was brought to the US as an infant by her parents but is not a US citizen, meaning she is not allowed to vote in federal elections.

Unusually harsh punishment

Having been sentenced to eight years in prison, Ortega will also likely face deportation from the US after she serves her time. The 27-year-old mother of four is expected to appeal the decision.

“This case shows how serious Texas is about keeping its elections secure,” said Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican politician who acted as prosecution in the case.

“And the outcome sends a message that violators of the state’s election law will be prosecuted to the fullest. Safeguarding the integrity of our elections is essential to preserving our democracy.”

Reacting to his client’s punishment, Ortega’s lawyer Clark Birdsall said her sentence was unduly harsh and designed to please those “swept up in the Trump hysteria where he is trying to find an explanation for why he lost the popular vote.”

Donald Trump has consistently alleged – despite Federal Electoral Commissioner Ellen Weintraub calling it an “astonishing” claim – that Democratic rival Hillary Clinton only won the popular vote because between three and five million illegal votes were cast for her.

An exceedingly rare crime

According to Birdsall, Ortega voted five times in Texas since 2004, including casting a ballot for her own prosecutor in a 2014 Republican primary runoff. The Texas Attorney General also allegedly agreed to dismiss the felonies provided Ortega spoke at a press conference with him in favour of introducing new voting restrictions in the state, with her lawyer saying this was “killed” by a district attorney.

According to research carried out by PoliticFact in 2015, there have been 85 prosecutions in Texas for voter fraud since 2002, accounting for just 0.000001% of the 72m votes cast in the state between 2000 and 2014.

In spite of all evidence to the contrary, Trump’s senior advisor Stephen Miller appeared on US television yesterday to repeat unfounded claims of mass voter fraud in the US election.

“This morning, on this show, is not the venue for me to lay out all the evidence, but I can tell you this, voter fraud is a serious problem in this country,” Miller told ABC.

When pressed for any evidence supporting his assertions by presenter George Stephanopoulos, Miller said: “I’m prepared to go on any show, anywhere, anytime and repeat it and say the President of the United States is correct 100%.”

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