According to a 2016 report from the Sentencing Project, a criminal justice reform group, more than 6 million felons in the U.S. & nearly 500,000 in TX were ineligible to vote in 2016. This woman was sentenced to 5 yrs prison for being a felon while voting. https://t.co/RvtamO3AzHpic.twitter.com/HwfGcZfbi4— Star-Telegram (@startelegram) March 29, 2018
A Texas woman’s release from prison was short-lived as she was once again put behind bars for five years — just for voting.
Crystal Mason, of Tarrant County, Texas, was convicted of tax fraud in 2011. In March 2012, she was sentenced to five years in federal prison, but got out after three years on supervised release. She was also ordered to pay $4.2 million in restitution.
However, the 43-year-old has now been sentenced to five years in prison for voting illegally in the November 2016 presidential election.
The distraught mother of two said she voted upon her mother’s insistence and wasn’t aware of the fact she couldn’t vote. She recounted when she went to vote her name was not on the voter roll, but an election worker walked her through how to vote provisionally after signing an affidavit, she said.
However, she did admit not reading the affidavit thoroughly because the election worker had been helping her fill the form out.
Her lawyer, J. Warren St. John, was bewildered by the fact that the government would think Mason was lying.
“She was never told that she couldn't vote, and she voted in good faith,” he said. “Why would she risk going back to prison for something that is not going to change her life?”
John does have a point — it seems unlikely someone would jeopardize their ambiguous freedom over voting.
Mason admitted the mistakes she did make.
“I inflated returns,” Mason said. “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.”
But, she insisted had she known she was going against the law by voting, she wouldn’t have bothered. Considering the fact she already had charges imposed upon her, the matter of voting was trivial to her.
“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,” she added.
Mason’s lawyer filed an appeal and is hopeful about her release.
Texas law prohibits felons from voting until their full sentence, including supervised release, is served.
Banner/Thumbnail Credits: Pixabay