Texas Woman Gets 5 Years In Prison For Unintentional Illegal Vote In 2016

Portland Press Herald/Portland Press Herald

A 43-year-old Texas woman was sentenced to five years in prison Wednesday for voting in the 2016 election while she was still on supervised release for a felony tax fraud conviction from 2011, the Star-Telegram reported.

The woman, Crystal Mason, reportedly said in court that she did not know she was not allowed to vote and that no official involved in her felony case told her that she wouldn’t be able to vote until she had finished serving her sentence and supervised release. She had already served about three years in federal prison for a tax fraud crime.

Mason waived her right to a jury trial. She reportedly told the judge at her sentencing hearing that she was given a provisional ballot when she went to her usual polling place and realized that her name wasn’t on the voter roll, according to the Star-Telegram. She claimed an election official helped her fill out the form to get a provisional ballot, so she didn’t read it closely.

The judge, Ruben Gonzalez, argued that she had to sign an affidavit to get the provisional ballot and should have known there was a “legal connotation” to that document, according to the Star-Telegram. The county prosecutor reportedly reminded Mason that she had risked jail time by violating federal tax laws in the past.

Before Gonzalez sentenced her to five years in prison, Mason reportedly said that she would not have knowingly broken the law just to vote.

“I inflated returns,” Mason said, according to the Star-Telegram. “I was trying to get more money back for my clients. I admitted that. I owned up to that. I took accountability for that. I would never do that again. I was happy enough to come home and see my daughter graduate. My son is about to graduate. Why would I jeopardize that? Not to vote. … I didn’t even want to go vote.”

Mason’s defense attorney J. Warren St. John, told the Star-Telegram that an appeal had already been filed and he hoped to get Mason out on bond soon.

Warren St. John and the Tarrant County prosecutor Matthew Smid did not immediately return TPM’s requests for comment.

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