A Texas woman was sentenced to five years in prison on Wednesday, March 28, for voting illegally in the 2016 presidential election while she was still on supervised release for a prior fraud conviction.
Crystal Mason, 43, waived her right to a jury trial and instead opted to have District Judge Ruben Gonzales decide her fate, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported. Mason’s attorney, J. Warren St. John, said following the verdict that an appeal had already been filed and he hoped his client would soon be released on bond.
“I find it amazing that the government feels she made this up,” St. John said in court. “She was never told she could not vote, and she voted in good faith … Why would she risk going back to prison for something that is not going to change her life?”
Mason, who served close to three years in federal prison after pleading guilty to tax fraud in 2011, testified that she was given a provisional ballot when she arrived at her designated polling location and discovered her name wasn’t listed on the voter roll.
When asked why she didn’t fully read the documents handed to her, Mason told the judge she did not read the forms carefully because she was being assisted by an election official. She said she didn’t remember the form saying anything about folks on supervised release being barred from voting, adding that she was never told by the federal court, the election workers, her supervision officer or the sentencing judge in her fraud case that she couldn’t vote until she completed her sentence, supervised release included.
“I inflated [tax] returns,” Mason said told the court of her previous crime. “I was trying to get more money back for my clients. I admit that. I owned up to that. I took accountability for that. I’d never do that again.”
“I was happy enough to come home and see my daughter graduate,” she continued. “My son is about to graduate. Why would I jeopardize that? Not to vote. … I didn’t even want to go vote.”
In should be noted that in Texas, convicted felons can have their voting rights fully restored after they finish serving their sentence.
Mason was taken to jail after her sentencing Wednesday.