“Texas Court of Appeals Successfully Overturns Probation Woman’s Voter Fraud Conviction”

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A court of appeals in Texas has annulled the conviction for voter fraud and a five-year jail sentence of a Fort Worth woman for submitting an illegal provisional vote.

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Crystal Mason was unaware, the Fort Worth’s Second District Court of Appeals ruled on Thursday, that her probation status from a prior felony meant she couldn’t legally vote in 2016.

Prosecutors argued that Mason had acknowledged reading and signing an affidavit with the provisional ballot, declaring she’d “fully completed” her sentence if she was convicted of a felony.

Justice Wade Birdwell indicated that simply reading the affidavit’s words didn’t confirm Mason intentionally voted unlawfully with the provisional ballot.

“If she even read them, it ain’t enough … to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that she actually knew being on supervised release, after finishing her whole federal sentence of incarceration, rendered her ineligible to vote with a provisional ballot.”

Mason, who used to prepare taxes, was found guilty in 2012 for pumping up refunds for her clients and completed almost three years of a five-year prison term. She was then subject to three years of supervised release and was ordered to restitution amounting to $4.2 million, as per the court records.

Before this, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals had sent the case back to the court to decide if there was enough evidence to convict Mason, ruling that Texas election law requires individuals to be aware of their ineligibility to vote in order to be found guilty of illegal voting.

Mason’s extended sentence had caused discomfort among both Republican and Democratic state legislators. In 2021, despite Democrats’ protests, the GOP-dominated state House passed a resolution after enacting a new voting law measure, stating “a person shouldn’t be criminally jailed for just making an innocent mistake.”

Overcome with joy, Mason, in a statement from the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, expressed her relief.

“I got dragged into this battle for voting rights and I’m gonna keep fighting to make sure nobody else gotta go through what I’ve been through for over six years, a political maneuver where minority voting rights are being targeted,” Mason remarked.

Kim Cole, Mason’s lawyer, labeled the prosecution as spiteful and driven by political motives.

“The state’s prosecution openly said they aimed to ‘send a message’ to the voters. They intentionally dragged Crystal through over six years of pure torment,” Cole stated.

As of Friday morning, the prosecutors hadn’t responded immediately to a request for comment by phone.

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