Black woman sentenced to 5 years in prison for illegal voting files new appeal

Crystal Mason had no idea she was not allowed to vote in 2016 and has filed an appeal of her five year prison sentence

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In 2018, Crystal Mason was sentenced to five-years for voting in the 2016 election. The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas is now working with her to appeal the verdict.

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Mason had no idea she was not allowed to vote in 2016 when she cast her provisional ballot due to the fact that she was on federally supervised release. The ACLU requested on Monday that Texas’ highest court, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, review the case, per Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Crystal Mason
Crystal Mason (Credit: American Civil Liberties Union /screenshot)

At a hearing in September 2019, Mason attempted to appeal the case in Tarrant County but the Second District Appeals Court maintained her conviction.

“The fact that she did not know she was legally ineligible to vote was irrelevant to her prosecution,” wrote Justice Wade Birdwell on the case.“The State needed only to prove that she voted while knowing of the existence of the condition that made her ineligible.”

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But despite the judge’s ruling, Mason says she is not afraid.

“I’m more energized than ever before and I refuse to be afraid,” said Mason in an ACLU press release. “I thought I was performing my civic duty and followed the election process by filling out a provisional ballot. By trying to criminalize my actions, Texas has shown me the power of my voice. I will use my voice to educate and empower others who are fighting for their right to vote.”

A staff attorney for the Texas Civil Rights Project, Emma Hilbert, said in the press release the ruling goes against our country’s democracy.

“Crystal’s submitted a provisional ballot that ultimately was not counted,” said Hilbert. “Like her, thousands of voters cast provisional ballots during every federal election. Criminalizing those actions jeopardizes our democratic values and risks silencing the voices of voters across this state and nation.”

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