Black woman in Texas gets 5 years in prison for voting while on probation
U.S. citizens are encouraged to cast their ballots in every election, but one woman who had done time behind bars, did so not knowing that it would result in more jail time for her.
Crystal Mason, 43, was sentenced to five years by a judge on Wednesday for voting illegally in the 2016 presidential election. Mason, who says she was completely unaware that she was ineligible to vote at the time, was on probation following a three-year stint in prison from a separate charge dating back to 2011 for tax fraud.
According to Star-Telegram, the Rendon, TX resident decided to waive her right to trial by jury and was given her sentence directly from District Judge Ruben Gonzalez.
“I find it amazing that the government feels she made this up,” said Mason’s attorney J. Warren St. John. “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?”
Mason says that back on November 8, 2016, her mother encouraged her to vote and she obliged. She walked into her normal polling place and they were unable to find her name on the list of registered voters, so she filled out a provisional ballot in its place. The provisional ballot was later flagged and Mason was therefore informed that it did not count.
Mason was unsure about why it didn’t count until she visited her probation officer in February, and was arrested for the incident.
Mason asserted that she was never told by any authority that the act of voting was prohibited until she had finished serving her sentence; that includes “the federal court, her supervision officer, the election workers or U.S. District Judge John McBryde.”
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Additionally, having signed an affidavit to receive the provisional ballot, she said that she didn’t even read the rules on the document closely because she was being assisted by an elected official and trusted them.
In court, when asked about her past fraud actions, she stated, “I inflated returns. 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.”
She continued, “I was happy enough to come home and see my daughter graduate. My son is about to graduate,” she told the prosecutor in court. “Why would I jeopardize that? Not to vote … I didn’t even want to go vote.”
Mason was escorted to jail following her sentence. Her attorney, St. John, said that an appeal has already been filed and he’s hopeful he can at least get her out on bond soon.
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