Media Contact

Matt Levin, ACLU of Texas, [email protected]

March 28, 2024

FORT WORTH, Texas — The Texas Second Court of Appeals reversed Crystal Mason’s conviction Thursday evening, resulting in an acquittal. She had faced five years in prison for submitting a provisional ballot in 2016 that was never counted as a vote.

This is a victory for Mason, a Black mother of three from Fort Worth, whose life was upended by the state’s aggressive charges. She was convicted of illegal voting despite believing she was fulfilling her civic duty and not realizing the state considered her ineligible to vote.

“I am overjoyed to see my faith rewarded today,” said Crystal Mason. “I was thrown into this fight for voting rights and will keep swinging to ensure no one else has to face what I’ve endured for over six years, a political ploy where minority voting rights are under attack. I’ve cried and prayed every night for over six years straight that I would remain a free Black woman. I thank everyone whose dedication and support carried me through this time and look forward to celebrating this moment with my family and friends.”

In the appeal of her conviction, Ms. Mason is represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, the ACLU, Texas Civil Rights Project, criminal defense attorney Alison Grinter Allen, and civil attorney Kim Cole.

The court’s move to reverse the conviction shows that nobody should face conviction or prison time for at worst an unintentional mistake made while trying to exercise their civic duty.

“We are relieved for Ms. Mason, who has waited for too long with uncertainty about whether she would be imprisoned and separated from her family for five years simply for trying to do her civic duty,” says Thomas Buser-Clancy, senior staff attorney for the ACLU of Texas. “The harms of the criminal prosecution can never fully be undone, but this decision is vindication for Ms. Mason and a win for our democracy, which can only thrive when people can fearlessly engage in the civic process.”

“Crystal Mason has bravely fought this grave injustice for years now. No one should be forced to endure what she has, and Crystal’s victory today is an inspiration and cause for celebration,” said Sophia Lin Lakin, director of the ACLU's Voting Rights Project, who argued this appeal.

“This ruling gives us hope not just for Ms. Mason, but for the broader fight for voting rights in Texas,” said Christina Beeler, voting rights attorney at the Texas Civil Rights Project. “Crystal Mason was unfairly targeted because of bad faith actors in this state who are determined to use every tool at their disposal to attempt to intimidate voters, especially Black and Brown voters, but that approach will not work here in Texas. We are proud to have assisted in securing Ms. Mason’s freedom, and we are proud of Ms. Mason — instead of intimidating Ms. Mason through her unlawful prosecution, the state has empowered Ms. Mason to continue fighting for voting rights alongside other advocates.”

“This should never have happened. Crystal and her family have suffered for over six years as the target of a vanity project by Texas political leaders,” said Alison Grinter Allen, criminal defense attorney. “We’re happy that the court saw this for the perversion of justice that it is, but the harm that this political prosecution has done to shake Americans’ confidence in their own franchise is incalculable.”

“We are very glad that the court followed the rule of law. It is clear that the state’s prosecution against Crystal was malicious and purely politically motivated,” said Kim T. Cole, civil attorney for Crystal Mason. “The state’s prosecution specifically stated that they wanted to ‘send a message’ to voters. They deliberately put Crystal through over six years of pure hell. She woke up every morning not knowing if that would be the day that her freedom would be stolen from her.”

Access a copy of the ruling here: