Judge Upholds 5-Year Sentence For Black Texas Woman Imprisoned For Illegally Voting
She continues to face an uphill battle.
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A Texas appeals court determined on Thursday that Mason will remain in prison despite claims she was unaware she was ineligible to vote at the time.
Mason was previously on supervised release after being found guilty of tax fraud. At the time, the Texas woman went to go vote, reportedly unaware that the state prohibits felons from voting until they complete their sentence, including supervised release. However, according to her 2018 trial, she was never told that she couldn’t vote, according to The Guardian.
Upon arriving at the poll, Mason submitted a provisional ballot after volunteers were unable to locate her voter registration profile. She was subsequently jailed after it was determined that she was not an eligible voter.
Original (September 19, 2019): Crystal Mason, a Texas woman who was sentenced to five years in prison for voting in the 2016 election, is seeking a new trial.
Mason and her lawyers will appear in front of a panel of three Texas Court of Appeals judges to request a new trial, according to HuffPost. If her request is denied, Mason will take the case to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
The ordeal began in 2016 when she attempted to vote in the presidential election, as Blavity previously reported. A teenage poll worker was unable to locate her name in the voter registration roll, so he gave her a provisional ballot. Mason filled out the form, signed an affidavit and submitted it to the worker. An investigation ensued and Mason’s vote was eventually thrown out. At the time, she was on supervised release after serving three years in prison for tax fraud. However, she insisted she had no clue she was unable to vote until her sentence was entirely over. Tarrant County District Attorney Sharen Wilson didn’t believe her and pursued charges.
Mason was eventually sentenced to five years in prison. Additionally, she was sentenced to another 10 months for violating the terms of her supervised release.
“Crystal’s case is an effort in voter suppression. This has nothing to do with whether or not she was eligible to vote,” said Kim Cole, one of Mason’s lawyers during a speech at her client’s church. “They don’t want folks who look like Crystal to show up at the polls.”
Details of the case have been flimsy from the start. Jarrod Streibich, the poll worker who gave Mason the affidavit, admits he knew she wasn’t allowed to vote but said it “slipped his mind.” Two other poll workers had conflicting stories about the incident but claimed they saw Mason looked over the documents before she signed.
Despite the contradictions, the legal team knows Mason has a long battle ahead of her. Republicans have been running Tarrant County since the 1980s, and all three judges on the panel are Republican. Wilson is also a member of the party.
“We are bringing a case that basically suggests an existential threat to Republican governance in that part of Texas,” said Alison Grinter, another attorney representing Mason. “I think it’s going to be difficult ... I have no reason to believe that we won’t find judges who will place the law above partisanship.”
Wilson has argued Mason’s case isn’t a partisan issue.
“The only ones who have ever tried to politicize this case are Mason and her representatives,” she said earlier this year. “No one has anything to fear from our office unless the person chooses to break the law.”