A Texas woman who voted illegally in the 2016 presidential election has been sentenced to five years in prison.
After Crystal Mason, 43, pleaded guilty to tax fraud in 2011, she served almost three years in federal prison but had not yet completed her sentence and was still under supervised release.
Texas law prohibited Mason from voting in elections until she finished serving her sentence, which included the supervised release. However, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, she testified that the federal court, her supervision officer, the election workers, and the fraud cause’s sentencing judge never told her of this prohibition.
So when she arrived at the polling place and learned her name was not on the voter roll, she was assisted by election workers and given a provisional ballot. In order to obtain the provisional ballot, she signed an affidavit which stated it is a violation of the law for convicted felons to vote, but she testified that she did not read the fine print in full because she was being assisted by elected officials.
A judge sentenced Mason on Wednesday, after she waived her right to a jury trial.
The Star-Telegram reported an appeal has already been filed and that her defense attorney, J. Warren St. John, told the court, “I find it amazing that the government feels she made this up. She was never told that she couldn’t vote, and she voted in good faith. Why would she risk going back to prison for something that is not going to change her life?”
All for a non-violent crime.
As a black woman, Mason’s five-year sentence follows a pattern of minorities found guilty of illegal voting receiving disproportionate prison sentences while white individuals had their cases dropped or received lesser punishments.
Last year, a 37-year-old Hispanic woman with a green card was convicted of voting illegally. Rosa Maria Ortega is a mother of four children who received eight years in prison for voting in the 2012 general election and in the 2014 Republican primary runoff.
Meanwhile, state prosecutors in North Carolina chose not to pursue voter-fraud charges against a white woman who voted illegally in the 2016 presidential election. The woman is a Republican who says she voted for Donald Trump illegally to fulfill her mother’s dying wishes.
In Colorado, a white former Colorado Republican Party chairman was sentenced to four years probation and 300 hours of community service for voting illegally in the 2016 presidential election. He illegally signed his ex-wife’s ballot.
And in Iowa, a white 56-year-old woman who tried to voted for Trump twice received two years of probation and a $750 fine.
It’s ironic that the Attorney General of Texas, Ken Paxton, was himself indicted in 2015 on felony charges of fraud.
The views expressed here are those of the author and do not represent those of any other individual or entity. Follow Sarah on Twitter: @sarahmquinlan.