A Fort Worth woman sentenced to five years in prison for illegal voting after filling out a provisional ballot while on parole in 2016 won a key ruling Wednesday in her effort to have the conviction overturned.
Crystal Mason was at a news conference Thursday with her attorneys; her pastor, Frederick D. Haynes III from Friendship-West Baptist Church; and Minister Dominique Alexander, the day after a Texas court ordered a new look at her case.
“I am emotional right now. I’m just thinking of this journey,” Mason said.
A journey that remains in the courts, and the experience, is fresh in her mind. “Thinking about when my pastor had to take me to self-surrender,” recalled Mason.
Mason was on supervised release from prison in 2016 when she filled out a provisional ballot with the help of a poll worker. She was sentenced to five years in prison after being accused of illegal voting. Mason and her attorney say she didn't know she was ineligible.
“We should not be here,” said attorney Kim T. Cole.
A key ruling in her case Wednesday came from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. The panel determined that Texas election law requires someone to know they are ineligible to vote to be convicted of illegal voting. A lower court has been ordered to review whether there is sufficient evidence to convict her.
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"They have never presented evidence that shows that Crystal Mason voted illegally and that she knew that,” said Attorney Justin Moore.
Mason, who appeared with her grandson, took no questions but offered a brief statement.
“This been a strain on not only me but my family, too,” she added.
The Tarrant County District Attorney’s office, which prosecuted the case, said no comment since it is a pending case.
In the past, the Tarrant County District Attorney’s office said Mason knew she was ineligible to vote, but cast her provisional ballot anyway.