Is it really true that she didn't know she couldn't vote? Wouldn't everyone caught and facing that punishment make that assertion? Aren't people who get a green card told very clearly that they cannot vote? How did she register to vote without being forced to assert that she was a citizen, which she knew was not true? Ah, yes:
While living in neighboring Dallas County, she registered to vote before the 2012 election, checking a box on the registration form that certified that she was a United States citizen. After voting in 2012 and 2014, she moved to Fort Worth’s Tarrant County in 2015, where she registered to vote again — this time, ticking the box that indicated she was not a citizen.When she told the truth, she was not able to register.
When her registration was rejected, she called elections officials, telling them that she had voted in Dallas. Told that people who checked the noncitizen box were ineligible to vote, she reapplied, this time indicating that she was a citizen.Finally, the authorities took notice and she was prosecuted. It took all those steps for her to trigger a consequence. That is, if she'd just checked the "citizen" box all along, she'd have gotten away with it. (Like so many others?) And we're invited to feel sorry for her because she's facing punishment:
Her punishment may be unprecedented for an offense that often draws a minimal sentence or probation.... The case resonates in a polarized political environment where some are convinced that immigrants threaten to upend the nation’s shared values more than they continue its long history of accepting and assimilating outsiders. Ms. Ortega’s lawyers say they believe the severity of the sentence stems from the furor over immigration and false claims about voter fraud raised by Donald J. Trump’s nationalistic presidential campaign.....Baseless? If you believe that, you'd have to think that all noncitizens should just be told to go ahead and vote by simply checking the "citizen" box when they register. How is Ortega a scapegoat? She made herself conspicuous. Her only argument is that she'd have gotten away with it if she'd kept a lower profile.
Ms. Ortega’s lawyers are casting her as a scapegoat. The case, they say, was manufactured to prop up Mr. Trump’s baseless voter-fraud claims....