Texas Court Annuls Sentence for Woman’s Alleged Illegal Vote


A woman was given a five-year prison sentence for voting illegally, but on Thursday, an appeals court in Texas overturned it. This ended a years-long case that got national news.

Crystal Mason was given a five-year prison term in 2018 after she admitted she didn’t know she couldn’t vote because she had been found guilty of tax fraud in 2011. In 2016, she used a provisional ticket to vote for president with the help of a poll worker.

Supreme Court Justice Wade Birdwell said in his decision to overturn Mason’s sentence on Thursday that “finding Mason to be not credible—and disbelieving her protestation of actual knowledge—does not suffice as proof of guilt.”

Birdwell said that Mason had said in court that she wasn’t told she couldn’t vote on her release while she was in jail. Birdwell says she “emphatically denied” having read the affirmations on the provisional ballot that said felons were not allowed to vote. She said in court that she didn’t know she couldn’t cast a vote because she was on supervised release from jail.

The decision said that Mason’s vote was not counted because she was not allowed to vote because of her 2011 conviction. “In the end, the State’s primary evidence was that Mason read the words on the affidavit,” he said.

“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,” he said.

In 2021, the Court of Criminal Appeals said it would hear Mason’s case. At the time, Mason was out of jail on an appeal bond.

Her sentence in 2018 got a lot of attention across the country, and people are now protesting the lower court’s ruling.

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