Black Woman Sentenced to 5 Years for Voting Gets Legal Help

Crystal Mason of Texas was sentenced to more than five years in prison for voting.

Crystal Mason of Texas was sentenced to more than five years in prison for voting while on supervised release.

By Fannie Lou Hamer

Crystal Mason, a black Texas woman, was sentenced to five years in jail after unintentionally committing voter fraud and is now receiving assistance from the American Civil Liberties Union as well as the Texas Civil Rights Project

“I am very excited to have the ACLU of Texas and the Texas Civil Rights Project joining me in my fight,” Miss Mason said. “I am very grateful and I hope that justice will prevail here.”

In 2018, Crystal Mason was convicted of illegally voting in the 2016 presidential election while she was still on a supervised release for a prior felony conviction. The 44-year-old mother of three insists she was unaware that her conviction rendered her ineligible to vote.

She received a five-year sentence in her state case in addition to an additional 10 months in federal prison for being convicted of a crime while she was still on a federal supervised release. This sentence also included an additional 26 months of supervised release.

Lawyers have argued that Crystal Mason deserves a new trial, considering the fact that the provisional ballot, which she cast, was not even counted in the election. They made their case before the Court of Appeals in November, also arguing that the statute under which Mason was convicted is too vague.

Therefore, her team of attorneys is calling for the court to either reverse the previous conviction and acquit Mason of illegal voting or order a new trial altogether.

“The prosecution of Crystal Mason for the innocent mistake of casting a provisional ballot that wasn’t even counted is a severe injustice,” Andre Segura, legal director for the ACLU of Texas, said in a statement. “Ms. Mason simply attempted to follow the law and participate in what she believed to be her civic duty, and in return has been sentenced to an outrageous length of time in prison.

“The ACLU of Texas, the National ACLU Voting Rights Project, and the Texas Civil Rights Project will vigorously defend Mason against these unwarranted charges,” he added.

Beth Stevens, voting rights legal director for the Texas Civil Rights Project, said that Crystal Mason’s case is a “story of injustice.”

“State leaders have pursued dozens of prosecutions against individuals who have, at worst, made simple mistakes in the voting process in order to justify a statewide anti-voter agenda,” she said. “And unfortunately, Ms. Mason has been trapped in a political back-and-forth that threatens to deprive her of her liberty.”

Mason was given a five-year sentence from the state of Texas for an inadvertent mistake while others have committed deliberate voter as well as election fraud and escaped punishment.

Mason was released from a federal prison two weeks ago and is now living in a halfway house.

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