FORT WORTH, Texas – The ACLU of Texas today presented oral argument in the appeal of Crystal Mason’s five-year sentence for casting a provisional ballot in the 2016 election. The legal team is asking the appellate judges to either acquit Mason or order a new trial.
“Ms. Mason tried to do the right thing, her civic duty, and in return, has been sentenced to five years in prison. We are hopeful that the Justices will overturn her conviction and allow Ms. Mason to continue working to improve her life and that of her family.”
“I am hopeful that the justices understood that my conviction was unfair and shouldn’t stand,” said Crystal Mason, defendant challenging her conviction. “I just want justice here. For a fair chance. And for the justices to see that I don’t deserve this. I have faith in God and believe that whatever happens is in his plan.”
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. In today's oral argument in the appeal of her case, Mason’s legal team argued that she did not know the state considered her ineligible to vote because she had already completed her sentence. In addition, the legal team is arguing that as Mason’s provisional ballot was not counted, it does not qualify as a vote, and so she can't be prosecuted for illegally voting.
“We are proud to be in court today with Crystal who courageously stepped forward to challenge an injustice that was done to her,” said Beth Stevens, voting rights legal director for the Texas Civil Rights Project. “No one should be incarcerated for making, at worst, an unintentional mistake while trying to exercise their civic duty. These are efforts meant to strike fear in the hearts of eligible but vulnerable voters and to scare them away from exercising their rights. These thinly-veiled attempts at voter suppression must stop.”
“Ms. Mason’s case is part of a larger pattern that we’ve seen play out time and time again,” said Sophia Lin Lakin, staff attorney for the ACLU Voting Rights Project.“Laws supposedly about protecting election integrity are being wielded to suppress the vote. We will continue to fight for Ms. Mason and other individuals who are being similarly targeted.”
Mason is represented by the ACLU of Texas, the ACLU Voting Rights Project, Texas Civil Rights Project, Allison Grinter, and Kim Cole.