Texas Mother, Crystal Mason, Who Unknowingly Voted Illegally Sentenced to More Jail Time
A Texas woman previously sentenced to five years in prison for unintentionally voting illegally in the 2016 presidential election was slapped with an additional 10 months in prison Thursday for violating the terms of her release for a past conviction.
Crystal Mason, 43, was still on supervised release when she cast her provisional ballot nearly two years ago. The mother of two had served three years in prison after pleading guilty to tax fraud in 2011 and was ready to start her life anew. However, Mason said she was totally unaware her felony conviction barred her from voting in Texas.
No one in the polling place stopped her from voting, either.
“I was happy enough to come home and see my daughter graduate,” Mason said earlier this year. “My son is about to graduate. Why would I jeopardize that? Not to vote. I didn’t even want to go vote.”
In March, a judge convicted Mason of voter fraud and handed her a five-year sentence. Now, Thursday’s 10-month sentence stems “from federal charges that she’d violated the terms of her supervised release, which included not committing another federal, state or local crime,” Huff Post reported. The sentence also comes with an additional 26 months of supervised release.
Kim Cole, an attorney representing Mason, called the latest sentence a “gross miscarriage of justice.”
“The entire state prosecution was designed to suppress minority votes in Tarrant County,” Cole told the news site via e-mail.
Mason, who requested a new trial this summer and was denied, is set to surrender to authorities Sept. 13.
In an interview with CBS News, the defendant said she felt she should’ve been able to vote since she’d already served her time. Texas law, however, requires felons to complete their full sentence, including probation, before they can vote again.
“We should [be able to vote],” Mason said. “We pay taxes … and that’s what I believed. If I had a doubt in any way I wouldn’t have done it.”
CBS News noted that nationwide, an estimated 6.1 million felons are barred from voting. Almost 500,000 of them are in Texas. In 13 states, convicted felons lose their right to vote indefinitely.
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