Texas Court Ordered to Reconsider Crystal Mason’s Five-Year Prison Sentence for Illegal Voting
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has told a lower appeals court to take another look at the controversial illegal voting conviction of Crystal Mason, who was given a five-year prison sentence for casting a provisional ballot in the 2016 election while she was on supervised release for a federal conviction.
The state’s court of last resort for criminal matters on Wednesday ruled a lower appeals court had wrongly upheld Mason’s conviction by concluding that it was “irrelevant” to Mason’s prosecution that she did not know she was ineligible to cast a ballot. The ruling opens the door for Mason’s conviction to ultimately be overturned.
Mason’s lawyers turned to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals after the Tarrant County-based Second Court of Appeals found that her knowledge that she was on supervised release, and therefore ineligible to vote, was sufficient for an illegal voting conviction. Mason has said she did not know she was ineligible to vote and wouldn’t have knowingly risked her freedom.
On Wednesday, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that the lower court had “erred by failing to require proof that [Mason] had actual knowledge that it was a crime for her to vote while on supervised release.” They sent the case back down with instructions for the lower court to “evaluate the sufficiency” of the evidence against Mason.
“I am pleased that the court acknowledged issues with my conviction, and am ready to defend myself against these cruel charges,” Mason said in a statement released Wednesday. “My life has been upended for what was, at worst, an innocent misunderstanding of casting a provisional ballot that was never even counted. I have been called to this fight for voting rights and will continue to serve my community.”