A Woman With A Felony Record Is Being Sent Back To Prison For Voting In The 2016 Election
Crystal Mason has been sentenced to five years in prison for exercising her right to vote.
March 30, 2018 at 4:00 pm
Crystal Mason of Tarrant County, Texas, has been sentenced to five years in prison for exercising her right to vote.
America has a way of treating former convicts as second-class citizens. One way is by stripping convicted felons of their right to vote. However, what happens when the convict isn't aware of these conditions? In Texas, they believe more prison time is the solution.
According to The New York Daily News, while home on supervised release for tax fraud, Mason was urged by her mother to cast her vote in the 2016 presidential election. When Mason realized her name wasn't on the voter roll, she was assigned a provisional ballot, the Star-Telegram reports. The provisional ballot requires the voter to sign an affidavit. However, Mason had no idea of what she was signing.
After the 43-year-old's ballot was questioned by a poll worker, the Dallas Morning News reports the county launched an investigation.
Mason says she was not told by the federal court, her supervision officer, the election workers nor U.S. District Judge John McBryde, the sentencing judge in her fraud case, that she would not be able to vote in elections until she completed her sentence. In the state of Texas, voting rights are only restored after the sentencing, including supervised release, has been completed.
She served three years for a tax fraud conviction in 2011.
"I inflated returns," Mason said. "I was trying to get more money back for my clients. I admitted that. I owned up to that. I took accountability for that. I would never do that again. I was happy enough to come home and see my daughter graduate. My son is about to graduate. Why would I jeopardize that? Not to vote. ... I didn't even want to go vote."
Mason added that she did not carefully read the form because an election official was helping her.
She waived her right to a jury trial, opting to have state District Judge Ruben Gonzalez assess her sentence. She's being defended by attorney J. Warren St. John who says that after Wednesday's verdict, an appeal had already been filed in which he is hopeful Mason will soon be released on bond.
"I find it amazing that the government feels she made this up," St. John told the court. "She was never told that she couldn't vote, and she voted in good faith. Why would she risk going back to prison for something that is not going to change her life?"