Her vote was not counted. She has been facing five years in jail to cast it.

On Election Day 2016, Crystal Mason went to vote after her mother claimed to hear her voice in the presidential election. When her name did not appear on the official ballot list at the polling place in Tarrant County, Texas, she filled out the provisional ballot without thinking.

Mason’s vote was not officially counted or aggregated because he was not eligible to vote. She was released under supervision after serving five years in tax evasion. Nevertheless, when she voted, she was a felony under probation, and the vote involved her in a long appeal process after the state district court sentenced her to five years in an illegal vote. That’s right.

Mason claims he didn’t know he wasn’t eligible to vote.

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“This is so overwhelming that I wake up every day knowing that the prisons are lined up and try to keep a smile on your face in front of the kids, and you don’t know the result,” Mason said. Said in a telephone interview. “Your future is in the hands of someone else because of a simple error.”

Her case was directed to the Texas Criminal Appeals Court, the Supreme State Court for criminal cases, who said she had decided to hear it on Wednesday. Mason failed to demand a new trial and lost her case in the Court of Appeals.

The new appeal is the last chance for Mason, 46, on the appeal bond, to evade prison. If her proceedings proceed to the federal court system, Mason will have to appeal from the cell.

Alison Grinter, one of Mason’s lawyers, said the federal government was criminalized under the Help America Vote Act of 2002 because provisional voting was “an offer to vote, not a vote in itself.” He said he made it clear that it shouldn’t be.

She was unaware that Mason was ineligible and was still convicted, and Texas election law requires deliberately illegally voting for a person to be guilty of a crime. He said that he had decided.

“Crystal never wanted to be a voting advocate,” Grinter said Thursday. “She didn’t want to be political football here. She just wanted to get her life on track, just wanting to be a mom and grandma, but she really accepted it and ran, and She refuses to be threatened. “

A Tarrant County grand jury has charged Mason for violating Texas election law, a spokesman for the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office said in a statement.

“Our office offered Mason the option of probation in this case, but she refused,” the statement said. “Mason abandoned the jury trial and chose to go to trial in front of the judge.”

In March 2018, Judge Ruben Gonzalez of the 432nd District Court in Texas pleaded guilty to two felony charges in an illegal vote.

According to Tommy Buzzer Clancy, a lawyer at the American Civil Liberties Union in Texas, Mason should never have been convicted. If there is any ambiguity in someone’s eligibility, he said there is a provisional voting system there to explain it.

“That’s very scary,” he said of Mason’s belief, “and it eradicates the overall purpose of the provisional voting system.”

If her qualifications were wrong, he said, “That’s the end of the story.”

According to Joseph Fishkin, a law professor at the University of Texas at Austin, the Court of Appeals decision could set an important future precedent for how the public would interpret the vote, especially in the face of confusion. There is sex. He said he hoped the court would establish the principle of “not criminalizing people by being confused about the complexity of the interaction between criminal and election law.”

Fishkin and many other legal experts said the state believed that if the court upheld Mason’s conviction, the state would be in direct conflict with federal-backed American voting law.

“For basic impartiality and national participation, people are convinced that when people act in good faith and do not try to pull fast, you will not start prosecuting for criminal charges. It’s very important, “said Fishkin Thursday. “In this case, it’s clearly a concern, because many people who may not understand the details of their status or are allowed to vote will discourage voting.”

According to the Sentencing Project, a research organization specializing in crime and punishment, 5.2 million Americans across the United States have been convicted of serious crimes and cannot vote.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office said it has been charged with 531 fraudulent election crimes since 2004. The results of these cases were not immediately available. According to the Houston Chronicle, at least 72% of Paxton’s fraudulent voting cases target voters.

Mason’s cause is backed by the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank. Clark Neely, senior vice president of criminal justice at the institute, said the case was an example of excessive criminalization.

“It puts people in a position where they can commit criminal offenses without even knowing they are in violation of the law,” he said.

Serena Stewart, chief lawyer for the League of Women Voters, who submitted support briefs on behalf of Mason, sent a “very clear message” that her proceedings should be watched by those convicted of felony. Said that.

“She is an example, for example, she doesn’t want returning citizens, blacks, and black women to vote,” she said. “It’s a terrible story, and it’s not how democracy works, so we have to push it back.”

This article was originally New York Times..

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