Crystal Mason's mother insisted she vote in the 2016 presidential election, but when she went to her polling station in Tarrant County, Texas, she found out her name was not on the list. An electoral helper helped her to fill out a preliminary vote, as given to people who were not on the rolls, and to throw them.
Five years earlier, Mason pleaded guilty to tax fraud and was ordered to pay $ 4.2 million in restitution. She was also sentenced to five years in prison and three years of supervised release. Although Mason says she did not notice it at the time, she committed another crime by conducting this preliminary vote in November 201
On Wednesday, District Judge Ruben Gonzalez Mason sentenced to five years in prison for illegally electing the Fort value star telegram. Mason says she has no idea that she is not eligible to vote, but Gonzalez pointed out that a sworn declaration at the head of the preliminary vote states that people under supervision can not vote.
J. Warren St. John, Mason's lawyer, told HuffPost that no one in the federal court, the prison, the nursing home, or the Probation Center Mason ever said she could not vote because she was a convicted criminal. Mason tried to start her life after being released from prison, said St. John, got a job with the Texas Department of Transportation, then graduated from the Beauty School and started her own business.
In court, Mason rhetorically asked why she would deliberately risk her new life to vote.
"I inflated the return," Mason said, according to the Stern telegram. "I've tried to get more money for my clients, which I've admitted, I've heard that myself, I took the responsibility for it, I would never do that again, I was lucky enough to come home, and my daughter My son is about to graduate Why should I endanger this? Do not vote … I did not even want to vote. "
St. John said he wants to appeal, and Mason, who was arrested on Wednesday, is currently being released from prison on bail of $ 20,000.
St. John said it was ridiculous to believe that his client had intentionally cheated the state of Texas to vote. He noted that Mason went to the same polling station where she had always voted and used a legal driver's license and an address. There is no evidence, St. John said, that Mason even read the language on the provisional vote that told her that people on supervised firing are not eligible to vote.
In 2016 there were more than 6 million people in the United States disenfranchised for an offense conviction, according to The Sentencing Project. States differ in how the right to vote is restored. In four states, serious criminals are permanently disenfranchised and can only return their suffrage at the governor's discretion. Some states allow voters to be released from prison while others, like Texas, force them to complete all aspects of their sentences before they can vote again.
Election fraud is extremely rare in the US, but Mason's case and others illustrate how unauthorized persons sometimes throw ballots out of confusion. In 2017, a four-member Texas mother who immigrated legally to the United States was sentenced to eight years in prison for unwittingly illegally participating in several elections. Now she is probably facing deportation. In North Carolina, the district attorney in Alamance County prosecutes several felons who voted during their probationary period. At least some of them say they do not know they can not vote.
"Why should she vote illegally?" St. John said about his client. Nothing she did changed the outcome of any choice, it does not matter anyway because she got kicked out. "