FORT WORTH – The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, the ACLU Voting Rights Project, and the Texas Civil Rights Project today joined the legal team representing Crystal Mason, a Fort Worth woman challenging her conviction for illegal voting. Crystal Mason was criminally prosecuted and sentenced to five years in prison for casting a provisional ballot that was not counted in the November 2016 election.
“The prosecution of Crystal Mason for the innocent mistake of casting a provisional ballot that wasn't even counted is a severe injustice,” said Andre Segura, legal director for the ACLU of Texas. “Ms. Mason simply attempted to follow the law and participate in what she believed to be her civic duty, and in return has been sentenced to an outrageous length of time in prison. The ACLU of Texas, the National ACLU Voting Rights Project, and the Texas Civil Rights Project will vigorously defend Ms. Mason against these unwarranted charges.”
“I am very excited to have the ACLU of Texas and the Texas Civil Rights Project joining me in my fight,” said Crystal Mason. “I am very grateful and I hope that justice will prevail here.”
“Crystal Mason's story is a story of injustice in our state,” said Beth Stevens, voting rights legal director for the Texas Civil Rights Project. “State leaders have pursued dozens of prosecutions against individuals who have, at worst, made simple mistakes in the voting process in order to justify a statewide anti-voter agenda. And unfortunately, Ms. Mason has been trapped in a political back-and-forth that threatens to deprive her of her liberty. We are proud to join our partners and put the full-force of the voting rights community behind Ms. Mason to try to correct this injustice.”
“Claims of widespread voter fraud have been roundly debunked,” said Sophia Lakin, staff attorney with the ACLU's Voting Rights Project. “What we're now seeing is a dangerous trend of politicians treating people who make innocent mistakes as political pawns. Crystal Mason, a mother of three who was trying to do her civic duty, is having her life upended for political points. There are safeguards in place to ensure that only eligible votes are counted. Those safeguards worked exactly as they should — Ms. Mason’s provisional ballot was never counted.”
The civil rights groups will represent Crystal Mason in her upcoming hearing set before the Texas Court of Appeals. Attorneys will ask the court to either reverse the previous conviction and acquit Mason of the charge of illegal voting or order a new trial. The civil rights groups will be working with Crystal Mason’s current criminal attorneys, Alison Grinter and Kim Cole.