Dozens of demonstrators rallied in Fort Worth on Labor Day to keep a Tarrant County defendant from going to prison on a five-year sentence for an election violation.
Crystal Mason was convicted in 2018 for trying to vote in the 2016 election while on supervised release for a federal tax fraud felony conviction.
She said she listened to her mother in 2016 when her mom reminded her to vote.
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“It's very important to vote. My mom always told me, 'You don't have a voice if you don't,'” Mason said.
Since workers at her polling place did not find a registration for Mason in 2016, she only cast a provisional ballot that was not counted. So, she did not actually vote in 2016.
Her supporters argue the five-year sentence is too harsh and unfair.
Among the speakers at a Fort Worth rally for Mason on Monday was Pastor Frederick Haynes of Friendship West Baptist Church in Dallas. He said the whole case is an effort to stop people of color from voting.
“For Crystal, personally, it’s a travesty. At the same time, on a larger level, it sends a message that is downright evil and wrong,” Haynes said. “We think it was a signal that was sent to intimidate people as it relates to voting and their right to vote.”
It comes at a time when President Donald Trump has repeatedly cast doubt about fraud in the upcoming election and his opponent Joe Biden has done the same.
Strong North Texas turnout for the Super Tuesday primary election suggests the November turnout will be high.
Mason said she did not know that Texas law forbids her from voting until after finishing her sentence.
“They don’t put it in writing. They don’t tell us. But, yet we’re penalized,” Mason said.
Haynes said Trump has pardoned associates convicted of federal crimes.
“It’s a reflection of a double standard of justice in this country,” Haynes said.
Haynes and other Mason supporters are asking Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) to pardon her for the election violation.
Mason has three children and raises four more of her brother's children. She said a five-year prison sentence would devastate her family.
Mason said she was impressed with the support she has received.
"I am so humbled and just grateful and I’m thankful that the community did come out. And I’m just hoping that Greg Abbott sees the cause of all this and can do the right thing, as a man of God. Do the right thing," Mason said.
Kim Cole, one of Mason’s attorneys, said court appeals so far have upheld the election violation conviction and just one more level of appeal remains.
Mason’s supporters are planning a trip to Austin rally support from the governor.