Politics & Government

ACLU, Texas civil rights group to represent local woman convicted of illegal voting

The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, the ACLU Voting Rights Project, and the Texas Civil Rights Project joined the legal team representing Crystal Mason, the Rendon woman challenging her conviction for illegal voting, on Friday.

Mason, 43, was sentenced to five years in prison for casting a provisional ballot in the November 2016 election. The ballot was not counted, and Mason said she did not know she was not allowed to vote while was on supervised release from a 2011 fraud conviction.

“I am very excited to have the ACLU of Texas and the Texas Civil Rights Project joining me in my fight,” Mason said in a press release. “I am very grateful and I hope that justice will prevail here.”

In June, a judge denied her motion for a new trial. In August, Mason was sentenced to 10 months in federal prison for violating the terms of her parole that were issued in a 2011 tax fraud case.

“The prosecution of Crystal Mason for the innocent mistake of casting a provisional ballot that wasn’t even counted is a severe injustice,” said Andre Segura, legal director for the ACLU of Texas, in the press release. “Ms. Mason simply attempted to follow the law and participate in what she believed to be her civic duty, and in return has been sentenced to an outrageous length of time in prison.”

Mason said that she was never told that she would not be able to vote in elections until she finished serving her sentence, supervised release included.

“Claims of widespread voter fraud have been roundly debunked,” said Sophia Lakin, staff attorney with the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project. “What we’re now seeing is a dangerous trend of politicians treating people who make innocent mistakes as political pawns. Crystal Mason, a mother of three who was trying to do her civic duty, is having her life upended for political points.”

The civil rights groups said they will represent Mason in her upcoming hearing before the Texas Court of Appeals and ask the court to either reverse Mason’s conviction or order a new trial. The civil rights groups will be working with Mason’s current criminal attorneys, Alison Grinter and Kim Cole.

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