“This is one of the most important voting rights cases in modern Texas history,” Andre Segura, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas said in a press release on Monday (November 30).
In 2016, Crystal Mason, a Black woman, cast a provisional ballot in Texas while she was not eligible to vote. She was charged in 2018 and sentenced to five years in prison.
Mason was on supervised release for a previous tax fraud conviction when she voted in 2016. According to Texas state law, people with felony convictions cannot vote until their sentence is completed.
At the time of her trial, Mason said that she was not aware of the state law which rendered her ineligible. A probation officer even testified in the case that he didn’t warn her about the rule and consequences if she did attempt to vote.
Her case sparked national outrage, with civil rights activists highlighting the country’s history of voter suppression and disproportionate legal consequences Black people face while attempting to exercise their right to vote.
A lower appeals court upheld Mason's conviction earlier this year in March.
Now, Mason and a team of attorneys from the Texas ACLU, are making an appeal to the Court of Criminal Appeals, which is essentially the state’s supreme court.
They are citing the court's reversal of former US Tom DeLay's 2013 campaign finance violations conviction as precedent in the appeal.
"In reversing the criminal conviction of former Republican US Rep. Tom DeLay, the Court held that an individual must actually realize they are acting in violation of the Election Code in order to be lawfully convicted for such a violation," Segura stated.
In an earlier interview with Huffington Post, Mason said that the conviction had already shattered her life. She shared she’d lost her job and was at risk of losing her home. Mason said that many responsibilities had to be turned over to her teenage daughter while she went to prison.
Mason was released to a halfway house in the spring of this year.
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