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Texas court hears appeal from a woman sentenced to imprisonment for voting while not qualified

Crystal Mason was inadvertently ineligible in 2016, but was sentenced to five years in prison by voting. Crystal Mason said he didn’t know he wasn’t eligible to vote in 2016. Photo: Sign up for the Ed Pilkington / Guardian Guardian Voting Battle Newsletter. The Texas Supreme Criminal Appeals Court said Wednesday that it would hear an appeal from a Texas woman who was inadvertently ineligible in 2016 but was sentenced to five years in prison by voting. Crystal Mason said she didn’t know she wasn’t eligible to vote at the time. Many viewed the harsh ruling as an obvious effort to intimidate black voters. The case also took place as Texas prosecutors, including Attorney General Ken Paxton, were actively prosecuting even election crimes. Mason was then engaged in probation-like supervision release for a federal felony conviction, and Texas said that those convicted of felony would vote until their sentence was fully completed. Forbidden. Officials overseeing Mason’s release testified in her trial that she never informed her that she was not eligible to vote. The Fort Worth Court of Appeals upheld Mason’s conviction last year, saying that “the fact that she didn’t know she wasn’t legally eligible to vote was irrelevant to her indictment.” The Texas Criminal Appeals Court, Texas’s highest criminal appeals court, said it would hear the case on Wednesday. “I am very grateful that the Texas Criminal Appeals Court has decided to hear my case,” Mason said in a text message to the Guardian Wednesday morning. “I continue to trust God through this process, and I firmly believe that they will make the right decisions and overturn this unjust belief.” Mason pays less attention to politics in 2016. I didn’t pay, but I voted on election day because my mother urged her to do so. Polling place workers could not find her name on the list of registered voters when she came to vote and offered her a provisional vote. Mason left after filling out a provisional ballot containing a small printed affidavit confirming eligibility. Election authorities never counted her vote, as Mason wasn’t actually eligible to vote. Mason’s vote was rejected, but she was arrested a few months later and charged with an illegal vote. The decision to prosecute Mason in a felony illegal vote was unusual. Between 2014 and 2019, 12,668 tentative votes were held in Tarrant County, where Mason lives. Despite the rejection of more than 11,000 people, Mason appears to be the only person elected and charged with crime. The incident overturned Mason’s life. After she was convicted of an illegal vote, a federal judge revoked her release under her supervision and sent her back to federal prison for several months in late 2018. Meanwhile, her teenage daughter was responsible for running her family, who lost most of their home due to foreclosure. At last year’s appeal, Mason’s lawyer claimed that he did not vote technically because Mason’s vote was rejected. Federal law gives voters access to a provisional vote if they participate in the vote and have questions about their eligibility, that is, what happened in the case of Mason. Texas law also criminalizes illegal voting if it “knows” that someone is not eligible to vote. Mason’s lawyer claimed that the prosecutor could not prove that Mason knew he was ineligible. A libertarian think tank, the Cato Institute, submitted a brief explanation in support of Mason in December: “This case is a disappointing example of expanding the law with criminal penalties to punish actions that were simply honest mistakes. Will provide. ” The prosecution pointed out the fact that Mason had signed an affidavit and testimony from a voting worker who said he had instructed Mason to read it before signing. “I’m thrilled with the court’s decision to hear Crystal Mason’s appeal. Her conviction and the decision she received were seriously unjustified,” said the ACLU Voting Project helping Mason represent. Said Sophia Lynn Lekin, Deputy Director of the. One of the main witnesses to the case was a high school student who helped Mason when he voted in 2016. A student who was also Mason’s neighbor told the HuffPost in 2019 that he actually knew that Mason wasn’t eligible to vote, but forgot when she showed up in the vote.