Outrage after Black woman sentenced to 10 months in prison for voting illegally
Crystal Mason was sentenced to 10 months in prison on Thursday for voting in the 2016 Presidential election which violated the terms of her release for a felony conviction.
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Mason was convicted of a felony and unbeknownst to her, the past criminal record prohibited her from voting.
According to the Dallas Morning News, Mason will spend 10 months in federal prison followed by 26 months of supervised release.
In 2016, she said her mother urged her to cast her ballot in the historic 2016 election, she did just that.
“My mom kept nagging, ‘Go vote, go vote, go vote, go vote’ and I was just like OK, I did what she said,” Mason said.
“I went to go vote, November 2016. And what I understood was that I could vote. So, I went to the local church, where I went before I went to prison, and I went to vote. When they looked on the roster, they realized my name wasn’t there,” Mason explained to Democracy Now.
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“And I was like, “Well, I’ve been living here for over 10 years.” So, when I got ready to walk away, that’s when they stopped me and they told me that, “Hey, you can fill out a provisional ballot.” And I said, “What was that?” They said, “If you’re at the right location, it will count. And if you’re not, it won’t.” So I didn’t see any harm with that. So the lady sat me down and helped me out with it. And that’s exactly what I did.”
Several months later in March 2017, Mason said she was arrested for illegal voting.
Mason’s attorney Kim Coles believes it’s a blatant attempt to silence minority voters.
“I think it is absolutely ridiculous,” Coles said.
“There is a—I’m not certain where you’re from, but Tarrant County is very proud to be the largest urban red county, you know, in the country. And they want to keep it that way. And this is—this prosecution, in my opinion, is to send a message to minority voters to stay away from the polls.”
“There is absolutely no reason Crystal should have been prosecuted,” Coles said.
“She was not aware that she was not eligible to vote. Texas is one of the states where convicted felons do actually have the right to vote. And so, Crystal, unaware that her being on supervised release would prohibit her from voting, that she wasn’t eligible until—even though she had served her prison sentence, she wasn’t eligible until after her supervised release ended. And she was not aware of that. No one told her that. Her supervised release officer testified on the stand that he did not tell Crystal that she was not eligible to vote.”
Coles continued: “And Crystal herself emphatically has proclaimed, from day one, she was not aware that she could not vote in the state of Texas. And here, for the crime of illegal voting, it requires that you vote knowing that you’re not eligible. And that was not the case here…”
Coles noted the case of Terri Lynn Rote a white woman who was charged with the same crime yet voted for President Trump but was only was sentenced to two years’ probation and fined $750 in Iowa.