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Woman Sent Back to Prison for 5 Years After Voting While on Probation

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A 43-year-old former tax preparer who was convicted on felony tax fraud in 2012 is headed back to jail after it was discovered she voted during the 2016 presidential election. Based on state law, felons under supervision can’t legally vote, so, when the woman cast her ballot, the activity is considered illegal.

Crystal Mason of Texas was on community supervision at the time she cast her vote during the 2016 presidential election. She had only recently been released from prison and hadn’t originally intended to vote at all, though did so after her mother encouraged her to cast her ballot.

In Texas, it is illegal to vote as a felon under supervision, though Mason claims she was never told she couldn’t vote according to her attorney, J. Warren St. John.

When Mason arrived to vote, she found her name wasn’t on the voter roll. An election worker offered her a provisional ballot, which required Mason to certify she was eligible to vote.

There is verbiage on the ballot asking if the voter is a felon, but, since an election worker was assisting her, Mason stated she did not read the fine print as carefully.

Mason was charged with illegal voting for casting a ballot in Tarrant County, Texas, according to a report by the Texas Tribune. She was found guilty on Thursday, with State District Judge Ruben Gonzalez making the ruling.

Despite stating that she wouldn’t have voted had she been made aware that it was illegal, Mason was ultimately sentenced to five years in prison.

“You think I would jeopardize my freedom? You honestly think I would ever want to leave my babies again? That was the hardest thing in my life to deal with,” said Mason.

“Who would, as a mother, as a provider, leave their kids over voting?”

St. John asserts that Mason is being punished for an honest mistake and that the length of her sentence is based on Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s efforts to crack down on voter fraud.

“She voted in good faith. She showed who she was. Everything was truthful,” said St. John. “Just like she said in court, ‘Why would I want to jeopardize all the work I did to get out of prison, go to the halfway house and get back to my family, if I knew voting was going to get me into prison?’”

Mason’s vote did not count in the presidential election, as all provisional ballots are subject to review and Mason casting her vote led to the investigation.