A Texas woman who was sentenced to five years in prison for exercising what she thought was her civic right to vote is seeking to have the decision in her case overturned.
Crystal Mason, a resident of Forth Worth, Texas, submitted her provisional ballot in 2016 and was subsequently accused and convicted of voter fraud. Mason was on supervised release for a federal conviction when she cast the ballot.
Mason filed legal documents on Monday, Nov. 30, 2020, to request the decision be overturned.
“Crystal Mason never wanted to be a voting rights advocate,” Allison Grinter, criminal defense attorney for Mason, said in an official statement provided to ACLU Texas. “She never wanted to be on the news or have her name become a rallying point in a politically divisive battle. Hers is a textbook case for why provisional ballots were created and why they must not be criminalized. Crystal’s fight is a fight for every Texan.”
Provisional ballots were created in 2002 in an effort to weed out ineligible voters. By and large, the majority of provisional votes are not counted. Thousands are cast during major elections by would be voters who believer they are eligible. In fact, each provisional voter signs a required affidavit that claims their eligibility.
“Like her, thousands of voters cast provisional ballots during every federal election,” said Emma Hilbert, attorney for the Texas Civil Rights Project. “Criminalizing those actions jeopardizes our democratic values and risks silencing the voices of voters across this state and nation.”
BREAKING: We are asking the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to reverse Crystal Mason’s wrongful conviction. Mason faces a 5-year prison sentence for believing she was fulfilling her civic duty. We will keep fighting this travesty of justice. pic.twitter.com/UfZaFRezcf
— ACLU of Texas (@ACLUTx) December 1, 2020
Not to be deterred, Mason released a statement via the ACLU, exuding confidence in her case and the impending process that she hopes will ultimately deliver her freedom.
“I’m more energized than ever before, and I refuse to be afraid,” Mason said. “I thought I was performing my civic duty and followed the election process by filling out a provisional ballot. By trying to criminalize my actions, Texas has shown me the power of my voice. I will use my voice to educate and empower others who are fighting for their right to vote.”
Justice 4 Crystal Mason – We Call for the Immediate Pardon of Crystal Mason! – Sign the Petition! https://t.co/8J6PecOLIF via @Change please do 1 thing right & put & end 2 SYSTEMIC Racism! U all no that not 1 white person would receive this sent. @GovAbbott @tedcruz @JohnCornyn
— Peace4All (@Jmlieber) November 28, 2020