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Texas Woman Acquitted In High-Profile Voting Rights Case

Crystal Mason served three years of a five-year prison sentence for casting an ineligible vote during the 2016 election.

A state appellate court in Fort Worth, Texas, has acquitted Crystal Mason of an illegal voting conviction. Mason almost served a five-year prison sentence for ineligibly casting a vote during the 2016 election.

Judge Wade Birdwell ruled in favor of Mason, per NPR. He wrote that state prosecutors lacked sufficient evidence that Mason knew of her voting ineligibility. Her case gained national attention for its ties to voter disenfranchisement, especially in the southern state.

At the request of her family members, the grandmother went to exercise her right. Although she could not be located on the voter rolls, a volunteer helped her fill out a provisional ballot. Mason maintains that she was unaware that she couldn’t vote while on supervised release from prison. The woman, once incarcerated for federal tax evasion, could not legally vote because she had not technically finished her sentence.

While the vote did not count, Mason faced charges of voter fraud with the threat of returning to prison. In regard to her successful appeal, the ACLU of Texas applauded the decision. They called it a “victory for Mason, a Black grandmother from Fort Worth, whose life was upended by the state’s aggressive charges.”

Mason hopes to continue advocating for voter rights even after her acquittal.

“I am overjoyed to see my faith rewarded today,” expressed Mason in a statement. “I was thrown into this fight for voting rights and will keep swinging to ensure no one else has to face what I’ve endured for over six years, a political ploy where minority voting rights are under attack.”

Mason’s attorney, Alison Grinter Allen, maintains that Mason’s conviction was an unnecessary offense from the start. She stated that Texas’ conservative leadership continues to intimidate voters with cases such as these.

“Crystal and her family have suffered for over six years as the target of a vanity project by Texas political leaders,” said Grinter Allen. “We’re happy that the court saw this for the perversion of justice that it is, but the harm that this political prosecution has done to shake Americans’ confidence in their own franchise is incalculable.”

Especially with the upcoming 2024 election, voting rights, including for former felons, remains a big concern for advocates nationwide.

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