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Tarrant County Woman Pleads Her Case After Being Sentenced to Five Years in Prison for Illegally Voting

At a press conference on Tuesday, NBC 5 heard from a Tarrant County woman sentenced to five years in prison for illegally voting.

43-year-old Crystal Mason was on probation for a conviction for tax fraud when she voted in the 2016 presidential election.

In the state of Texas, convicted felons cannot vote until they complete their full sentence.

Mason said that her mother encouraged her to vote at the time.

Mason said that she didn’t know she couldn’t vote while on probation.

She used a provisional ballot, and said that her vote was not counted.

Kim Cole, a civil rights attorney, came with Mason to the press conference.

“Certainly the punishment is quite extreme, and do I believe it was racially motivated… absolutely,” said Cole.

After her conviction, Mason chose to not have a jury trial and to instead have State District Judge Ruben Gonzalez assess her sentencing.

He sentenced her to five years in prison.

“Everything was shocking. Everything was unreal. I couldn’t believe it,” she said.

We reached out to Judge Gonzalez for comment, and have not heard back.

District Attorney Sharen Wilson released a statement at the time the case was completed saying:

"Our society is built on personal responsibility. There were multiple safeguards in place to keep Crystal Mason from breaking the law, but she still made that choice. She signed and affirmed a document which clearly stated that (1) she was prohibited from voting due to her status as a convicted felon still serving her term of supervision, and (2) she would be committing a second degree felony if she lied about her status. The judge found her guilty of illegal voting beyond a reasonable doubt. The judge set her sentence after hearing all the facts of the case."

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