A Texas appeals court must reconsider its decision to uphold a five-year conviction for Crystal Mason, the Texas woman sentenced to prison for casting a provisional ballot in the 2016 election, the state’s highest criminal court ruled on Wednesday.
Mason showed up to the polls to vote in 2016, while on supervised release – which is similar to probation – for a federal tax felony. She cast a provisional ballot at the urging of election workers, which was ultimately rejected because people with felony convictions in Texas cannot vote while they are serving any part of a federal sentence. Mason said she had no idea she was ineligible to vote, and an official from the federal probation office testified at her trial that they never informed her she was ineligible.
A local judge in Tarrant county, where Mason lives, convicted her of illegally voting in 2018 and sentenced her to five years in prison. An appeals court upheld that ruling in 2020.
The Texas court of criminal appeals said the an appellate court had “erred by failing to require proof that the appellant had actual knowledge that it was a crime for her to vote while on supervised release”.
Mason has remained out of prison on an appeal bond during that time. Her appeal to the Texas court of criminal appeals, Texas’ highest criminal court, was her last chance.
The case attracted significant national attention because of the severity of Mason’s sentence.
More details soon…