31 March 2024

It Only Took 8 Years

Crystal Mason, a felon who mistakenly thought, and was so informed by the local voting authorities in Texas, that she could vote, and then was tried and sentenced to 5 years in jail, has been exonerated.

A Texas appeals court reversed the conviction of a Black woman who had been sentenced to five years in prison on a charge of illegally voting in the 2016 presidential election, acquitting her in a nationally watched case that civil rights attorneys cast as part of a broader fight for voting rights.

Crystal Mason voted with a provisional ballot in 2016 but, she has said, did not know she was ineligible to do so at the time. The ballot was not counted, but she was convicted of illegal voting in 2018.

Texas Second Court of Appeals Judge Wade Birdwell ruled Thursday that there was not enough evidence to show Mason had known she was ineligible to vote.

The case had been seen as an example of a GOP-led crackdown on alleged voter fraud in Texas, and Mason’s attorneys had framed it as an attempt at intimidating other voters, particularly people of color and those returning from prison, by making an example of Mason.

While I am happy for Ms. Mason, the anti-American conservatives who want to discourage Black and Brown people from voting largely achieved their goal, to instill fear in minority voting.



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