Texas woman sentenced to five years in prison for voting while on probation
31 March 2018
On Wednesday, a woman from Rendon, Texas was sentenced to five years in prison for voting in the 2016 election while she was on supervised release from a fraud conviction in 2011. Crystal Mason, 43, said she never would have cast a ballot had she known it was illegal.
Mason waived her right to a jury trial and allowed District Judge Ruben Gonzales to oversee her trial. During her testimony, Mason told the court that she received a provisional ballot when going to vote at her usual polling station. She said her name was not on the voter roll.
Gonzales asked Mason why she didn’t fully read the documents given to her at the time, inferring that the provisional ballot would have informed her she was not allowed to vote. The form you are required to sign to get the provisional ballot is called an affidavit, Gonzales told Mason. “There’s a legal connotation to that, right?” Gonzales asked.
Mason responded that she was never told she wasn’t allowed to vote while serving her sentence, probation included. The federal court, her probation officer, US District Judge John McBryde (the judge who presided over her fraud case), and the electoral workers all failed to inform Mason of her ineligibility, she said.
Mason was subsequently told by Tarrant County prosecutor Matt Smid that she had jeopardized her freedom in connection with her 2011 admission of violating tax laws.
“I inflated returns,” Mason said. “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…