A Tarrant County woman is fighting to clear her name after being convicted of voter fraud.
Crystal Mason is facing a five year prison sentence for voting while on probation. Mason says she did not know she was doing anything wrong. Her attorneys and supporters say the punishment is too harsh and doesn’t fit the crime.
”I had no idea that me being on probation at the time, that I couldn’t vote,” Mason said during a press conference in Dallas on Tuesday.
It has been a tough few weeks for the single mother of four. She is on a crusade, trying to clear her name.
”No one told me I couldn’t vote," Mason said.
Mason’s case has been making national headlines for a couple of weeks. She was joined at the press conference with her civil rights attorney and organizers with Next Generation Action Network.
Mason claims she never knew she was violating any laws by attempting to cast a ballot back in 2016. She was on probation after serving two-years and 10-months in federal prison for inflating tax returns for clients whose documents she’d prepared.
Mason said once she was released from prison on the initial case, she moved into a halfway house. She landed a job. She was going back to school, caring for her children, and turning her life around.
Mason claims back in 2016 she was going to fulfill her civic duty and an elections worker explained how she should fill out a provisional ballot when she went to a polling site.
Mason explained, ”I had filled out a form that someone instructed me to fill out. So I had no idea that I was going to do something that was going to jeopardize my freedom again.”
Civil rights attorney Kim Cole said the judge’s five-year sentence against Mason for violating probation by voting is too severe.
"Certainly the punishment is quite extreme,” Cole said. “And do I believe it was racially motivated? Absolutely.”
Cole and her team are now focused on helping Mason strategize her next steps in appealing the judge’s decision.
”In this country there is a serious need for criminal justice reform,” the attorney said.
Mason is out on an appellate bond, for now. However, since the voter fraud sentencing, she has lost her job.
Mason explained, ”When you think you are doing everything you are supposed to, to rehabilitate yourself, and show your kids that no matter what happens in life, you can still get back on track... and I voted. I voted. And look where I’m at.”