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Texas Appeals Court Overturns Woman’s Voter Fraud Conviction

A Texas appeals court has overturned a Fort Worth woman’s voter fraud conviction and five-year prison term for casting an illegal provisional ballot. Crystal Mason did not know that being on probation for a previous felony conviction left her ineligible to vote in 2016, the Second District Court of Appeals in Fort Worth ruled on Thursday. Prosecutors maintained that Mason read and signed an affidavit accompanying the provisional ballot affirming that she had “fully completed” her sentence if convicted of a felony. Justice Wade Birdwell wrote that having read these words on the affidavit didn’t prove Mason knowingly cast the provisional ballot illegally, the Associated Press reports. “Even if she had read them, they are not sufficient ... to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that she actually knew that being on supervised release after having served her entire federal sentence of incarceration made her ineligible to vote by casting a provisional ballot.”


Mason, a former tax preparer, was convicted in 2012 on charges related to inflating refunds for clients and served nearly three years of a five-year sentence in prison. Then she was placed on a three-year term of supervised release and had to pay $4.2 million in restitution. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals previously ordered the court to review whether there was sufficient evidence to convict Mason, ruling that Texas election law requires that individuals know they are ineligible to vote to be convicted of illegal voting. In 2021, after passing a new voting law measure over Democrats’ objections, the GOP-controlled state House approved a resolution stating that “a person should not be criminally incarcerated for making an innocent mistake.” Mason, in a statement released by the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, said, “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.”

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