Black Woman Sentenced To 5 Years In Jail For Voting In Texas
Crystal Mason was sentenced to five years in prison in Texas because she voted in the 2016 presidential election while on parole for a 2011 fraud conviction.
Under Texas law, citizens with felony convictions cannot vote until they have completed their parole.
These same folks still have to pay taxes while not being able to vote, which is taxation without representation.
Mason told state District Judge Ruben Gonzalez that she was assigned a provisional ballot at a polling place when she discovered that her name was not on the voter roll, notes the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
In response, Gonzalez lectured Mason on how she should have known legal terminology:
The form you are required to sign to get the provisional ballot is called an affidavit. There’s a legal connotation to that, right?
Gonzalez asked Mason why she did not read the documents she was given at the time, which strongly suggested Gonzalez understood that Mason voted accidentally, but sent her to jail anyway.
Tarrant County prosecutor Matt Smid reminded Mason that she had jeopardized her freedom in the past by violating federal tax laws.
Mason admitted to that, and asked the judge why she would knowingly do it again over voting:
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.
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’s defense attorney, J. Warren St. John, told the judge that Mason was never told she could not vote:
I find it amazing that the government feels she made this up. 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?
The Sentencing Project, a criminal justice reform advocacy group, released a report in 2016 that found more than 6 million felons and nearly 500,000 people in Texas lost their constitutional right to vote in 2016.
(Source: Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Photo Credit: Crystal Mason)