Rosa Maria Ortega, a 37-year-old mother of four, is not with her family tonight because Attorney General Ken Paxton and the criminal justice system of Texas have decided to crush her.

Ortega, whose mother brought her to the U.S. as an infant and never gained citizenship, didn’t know she wasn’t allowed to vote. But she did anyway—a civic duty that nearly half of eligible American voters won’t do. When she was caught, she never tried to cover up what she did. She was just confused. She never made it through seventh grade. If she really meant to commit felony voter fraud to influence elections in 2012 and 2014 (she didn’t vote last year), then she’s a sorry criminal and a poor political strategist—she voted Republican in Texas.

For her mistake, Paxton, who stands indicted himself for felony securities fraud, sought eight years in prison. On Thursday she was convicted. When her term is up, she’ll likely be deported to Mexico, a country that is not her home.

It isn’t clear who will raise her children.


If you have anything to say to Ken Paxton, you can reach him at:

Office of the Attorney General

PO Box 12548

Austin, TX 78711–2548

Fax: 512-475–2994

Phone: 512-463–2100

Or by email through this form.


UPDATE 2/14/17:

Latterly correspondent J. Malcolm Garcia has been in touch with her lawyer, Clark Birdsall, about doing a follow-up story. He wrote:

“Thank you for caring. It’s only thru people like you that we can fight the madness that is overtaking this country.”

UPDATE 2/16/17:

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Ben Wolford
Ben Wolford is editor of Latterly. His reporting has appeared in The New York Times, Newsweek, The Christian Science Monitor and elsewhere.