AUSTIN, Texas — A Texas 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.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ordered a lower court to review whether there was sufficient evidence to convict Crystal Mason. The court’s majority determined that Texas election law requires that individuals know they are ineligible to vote to be convicted of illegal voting.
The new ruling did not overturn Mason’s 2018 conviction, but keeps alive her contention that she didn’t know she was committing a crime when she filled out the ballot in Tarrant County for the presidential election. She was on supervised released from a federal tax fraud conviction and was barred from voting under Texas law. Her ballot wasn’t counted and she was arrested several months later.
Mason’s long sentence made state Republican and Democratic lawmakers uneasy. In 2021, after passing a new voting law measure, the GOP-controlled state House approved a resolution stating that “a person should not be criminally incarcerated for making an innocent mistake.”