A Black mother of two was sentenced on Wednesday by a Texas judge for five years in prison for “illegally” voting in the 2016 presidential election. However, the woman says her crime was unintentional and people are saying she was unfairly punished.
43-year-old Crystal Mason of Tarrant County, Tex., was on supervised release for tax fraud after serving nearly three years in federal prison. While she was on her release, her mother insisted she exercise her civic duty of voting in the crucial election, the Star-Telegram reported.
However, Mason was unaware that convicted felons are not allowed to register to vote in Texas, and voting their rights can be restored only after the sentence, including a supervised release, has been completed.
When Mason arrived at her polling place, the workers could not find her name on the list of registered voters, so a poll worker handed her a provisional ballot.
The poll worker gave Mason an affidavit listing the conditions required to vote. Mason signed the document and voted.
A poll worker later reported problems with Mason’s ballot which prompted an investigation, the district attorney's office spokesperson Samantha Jordan told the Dallas Morning News.
Mason, who was originally served time for a 2011 conviction for inflating returns, said she has “owned up” to her crime and she would never intentionally put herself in a position to go back to jail.
"I inflated returns," Mason told the Telegram. "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."
J. Warren St. John, her defense attorney, said an appeal had already been filed.
"I find it amazing that the government feels she made this up," St. John told the court. "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?"
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