Black Mother Sentenced For Illegal Voting Has Conviction Overturned

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A Texas mother who was accused of voting illegally in the 2016 election had her conviction overturned on Thursday (March 28), CNN reports.

Crystal Mason, a mother of three, was previously sentenced to five years in prison for filling out a provisional ballot in the 2016 election as a felon. At the time, Mason was on supervised release after being jailed for tax fraud.

Mason appealed her sentence in 2019, saying she didn't know that she was ineligible to vote as a felon. After five years, Mason's conviction was reversed by the Texas Second Court of Appeals on Thursday.

“After considering the dispositive issue remanded to us––whether the evidence was sufficient to support Crystal Mason’s conviction for illegal voting under the Texas Election Code––we reverse the trial court’s judgment and render judgment acquitting her,” the court said.

Mason said she was "overjoyed" by the verdict.

“I am overjoyed to see my faith rewarded today,” Mason said in a statement. “I was thrown into this fight for voting rights and will keep swinging to ensure no one else has to face what I’ve endured for over six years, a political ploy where minority voting rights are under attack. I’ve cried and prayed every night for over six years straight that I would remain a free Black woman.”

In 2019, the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office said it should've been clear that Mason was ineligible to cast a ballot. According to the DA's office, a letter was sent to Mason's home informing her of her status and a written warning was included on the provisional ballot.

Mason said a letter was sent to her home while she was in prison, so she didn't receive it. The mother also noted that she didn't notice the written warning on the ballot because she was focused on filling out other information on the form.

The court said the evidence presented in Mason's case “is insufficient to support the conclusion that Mason actually realized that she voted knowing that she was ineligible to do so and, therefore, insufficient to support her conviction for illegal voting.”

“In the end, the State’s primary evidence was that Mason read the words on the affidavit. But even if she had read them, they are not sufficient––even in the context of the rest of the evidence in this case––to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that she actually knew that being on supervised release after having served her entire federal sentence of incarceration made her ineligible to vote by casting a provisional ballot when she did so,” the court said.

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