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As voter ID laws again become the focus of debate in the run-up to the 2016 election, states face increasing challenges in monitoring the voting of non-citizens.

A resident of Tarrant County, Texas is now resident in the county jail held on charges of voting illegally five times in ten years despite not being a citizen of the United States.

The woman, Rosa Maria Ortega, is married to an American man, but knew that non-citizens did not qualify to vote according to the District Attorney’s Office who has charged her with five counts of fraud in connection with illegal voting. Ortega is being held on $10,000 bond.

The DA’s office spokesman for public integrity and white-collar crime investigations said that Ortega applied to vote in Tarrant County, which is home to Ft. Worth. While she is in the United States legally due to her marital status, mere marriage to an American does not automatically bestow the right to vote to a non-citizen.

Ortega applied to vote in Tarrant County and acknowledged on the application form that she was not a citizen, White said. The county rejected her application and notified her she was not qualified to vote.

According to the DA, Ortega acknowledged that she is not a citizen on her initial application to vote, but after it was rejected, she submitted another application on which she lied and claimed to be an American citizen.

Tarrant County voting records show that Ortega did not vote there, but she did vote five times in nearby Dallas County.

She voted for the first time in the Republican primary in 2004 and most recently in that party’s 2014 primary.

Illegal voting is a second-degree felony and Ortega faces a two to 20 year prison term for each of the five charges, although it is doubtful she would be sentenced to such a lengthy term.

In the next year, Americans will hear increasing arguments between Republicans who say that voter ID laws prevent just this type of abuse of the right to vote and Democrats who claim that such laws disenfranchise minorities.

At least 30 states have voter ID laws on the books as the country goes into the next presidential election in November 2016.


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