TARRANT COUNTY - A North Texas woman on trial for voter fraud said she had no idea she wasn't a U.S. citizen when she voted.
Rosa Maria Ortega is on trial for two counts of illegal voting after she voted at least twice in the 2012 November general election and the May 2014 primary runoff.
Ortega is a single mother of four and is on trial for casting ballots in two elections in Dallas County. The activity was discovered when she raised suspicion while trying to register to vote in Tarrant County.
During the first day of the trial on Tuesday, Ortega sat listening intently as prosecutors with the attorney general's office and her own attorneys made opening statements.
Defense attorneys pointed out she was brought to the U.S. as a tiny girl then abandoned by her mother. And that all this time, she had been unaware of exactly how to categorize her citizenship status and overall did not know she was doing anything wrong.
The state says the records show Ortega indicated she was a U.S. citizen and knowingly voted fraudulently.
It's been pointed out that she actually voted a number of times prior to the elections, all in Dallas County. And according to her own words on an audio recording, she did that because Dallas County never raised an objection. But there's a statute of limitations of three years in illegal voting, and charges are only applicable for her last two ballots.
Ortega’s case is being tried in Tarrant County because her application to vote was rejected there and triggered the investigation.
The trial continues Wednesday.