The Texas 2nd Court of Appeals has upheld a conviction against a woman who says she inadvertently voted illegally on two occasions, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced Tuesday.
Rosa Maria Ortega, a green card holder who was born in Mexico and brought to the U.S. as an infant, was convicted in 2017 and sentenced to eight years in prison. The Texas 2nd Court of Appeals upheld that conviction in a ruling dated Nov. 21.
Ortega maintained that she mistakenly voted illegally, saying that she marked the "citizen" box on her ballots because she is a resident. Ortega voted in five elections since 2004, including for Paxton in a 2014 primary, her attorney told The Washington Post last year.
Ortega's attorney, Clark Birdsall, also told the Post that the eight-year sentence she received was "off the rails."
“It’s a single vote that she’s casting," Birdsall told the newspaper at the time. “The fact that she got eight years is off the rails."
Paxton, in a statement Tuesday, praised the conviction, which critics have said is too harsh, as a necessary crackdown against illegal voting.
“This case underscores the importance that Texans place on the institution of voting, and the hallowed principle that every citizen’s vote must count,” Paxton said. “We will hold those accountable who falsely claim eligibility and purposely subvert the election process in Texas.”