TARRANT COUNTY, TEXAS — A year later, this woman is paying for her vote during the 2016 election. She had no idea her life would take such a horrible direction after casting her ballot.
5 ans de prison pour… un vote. Crystal Mason est allée voter à la présidentielle de 2016, alors qu’elle était en liberté conditionnelle et donc privée de ce droit. L’Américaine a fait appel. pic.twitter.com/TWea8hQteJ
— AJ+ français (@ajplusfrancais) April 1, 2018
Crystal Mason, 43-year-old former tax preparer, hadn’t even planned on voting at all, according to Washington Post. The source says her mother talked her into it.
Reportedly, on November 8, 2016, Mason arrived at her polling place to find her name absent on the voter roll. That’s when she received help from one of the election workers at the station.
The source says the worker offered to help and presented her with a provisional ballot. This allowed Mason to cast her vote by signing an affidavit certifying she was eligible.
And that’s where things went downhill.
As it turns out, Mason had only recently been released from federal prison for a 2012 tax fraud conviction; so, she was on community supervision. What’s wrong with that, right? Well, in Texas, felons aren’t allowed to vote while on supervision, probation, or parole.
BUT…Mason didn’t know that, and no one — including her probation officer — informed her that it was illegal for her to vote.
NOTE: Small print at the top of the provisional document asks the voter to certify that, if s/he is a felon, s/he has fully completed her/his sentence, including supervision or parole of any kind.
However, Mason said that — since an election worker was helping her fill out the form — she wasn’t really taking time to read through everything.
On Thursday, March 29, the woman pleaded with State District Judge Ruben Gonzalez that she simply wasn’t aware she was barred from voting. According to Washington Post, Mason stated as follows.
“You think I would jeopardize my freedom? You honestly think I would ever want to leave my babies again? That was the hardest thing in my life to deal with. Who would — as a mother, as a provider — leave their kids over voting?”
However, her plea fell on deaf ears as regards this particular judge. Now, she’s going back to prison for five years.
“I don’t think I’ll ever vote again,” Mason mentions. “That’s being honest. I’ll never vote again.”
And worse, her vote didn’t even count. According to the source, provisional ballots are subject to review. That’s what led to her investigation in the first place.
A WORD FROM HER LAWYER
According to J. Warren St. John, Mason’s attorney, the woman acted in good faith when she casted her ballot. He mentioned as follows.
“She showed who she was. Everything was truthful. Just like she said in court, ‘Why would I want to jeopardize all the work I did to get out of prison, go to the halfway house, and get back to my family, if I knew voting was going to get me into prison?'”
St. John states that Mason’s situation is another illustration of Texas’ overbearing crackdown on voter fraud — a problem GOP leaders have described as “rampant,” the source mentions. Yet, they’ve provided no hard proof, minus cases like Mason’s.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton says the state is “serious…about keeping its elections secure, and the outcome sends a message that violators of the state’s election law will be prosecuted to the fullest.”
But, St. John mentions that Mason’s situation was an honest mistake and is undeserving of such a harsh punishment.
And another reason why things are so bad regarding voter fraud is due to the stigma produced by Donald Trump.
According to the source, after the 2016 general election, Trump assembled a “voter fraud commission.” Time and time again, he’s made baseless claims that millions of people voted illegally.
Nevertheless, all in all, this is a horrible situation for Crystal Mason. Likewise, as she’s mentioned, it leaves a permanent scar on any future prompts to vote for anything at all.
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[Featured Photo via Isa Shisha / Twitter]