FORT WORTH, Texas — A Texas ex-con who said she didn’t know she wasn’t allowed to vote, was sentenced to five years in prison for illegally casting a ballot in the 2016 presidential election.
Crystal Mason, 43, of Rendon, Texas, said she had never been told her felony conviction for tax fraud had made her ineligible to vote, so she cast a provisional ballot last November when poll workers couldn’t find her name on the voter rolls.
She admitted she hadn’t carefully read the affidavit she signed that day but had insisted she just made a mistake. She even told the judge she hadn’t even planned to vote that day, but her mother insisted she go to the polls.
Still, state District Judge Ruben Gonzalez ruled that she be jailed for five years for voter fraud.
“I find it amazing that the government feels she made this up,” Mason’s lawyer J. Warren St. John said, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “She was never told that she couldn’t vote, and she voted in good faith. Why would she risk going back to prison for something that is not going to change her life?”
Mason had served just under three years in federal prison for illegally inflating the returns of customers to her tax preparation business.
“I inflated returns,” Mason told the judge. “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.”
According to the Sentencing Project, a criminal justice reform advocacy group, there were more than 6 million felons in the United States — and nearly 500,000 in Texas — who were ineligible to vote in 2016.