RSN Fundraising Banner
Crystal Mason Begins Prison Sentence in Texas for Crime of Voting
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=492"><span class="small">Ed Pilkington, Guardian UK</span></a>   
Saturday, 29 September 2018 08:22

Pilkington writes: "Crystal Mason, the woman who became the poster child for voter suppression when she was sentenced to five years for casting a ballot in Texas, has gone into federal prison at the start of her ordeal."

Crystal Mason, who is facing five years in Texas prisons because she mistakenly cast a provisional ballot when she was not allowed to do so. (photo: Ed Pilkington/Guardian UK)
Crystal Mason, who is facing five years in Texas prisons because she mistakenly cast a provisional ballot when she was not allowed to do so. (photo: Ed Pilkington/Guardian UK)


Crystal Mason Begins Prison Sentence in Texas for Crime of Voting

By Ed Pilkington, Guardian UK

29 September 18


Mason, in a case seen as emblematic of voter suppression, faces over five years in prison for a mistaken vote that was not counted

rystal Mason, the woman who became the poster child for voter suppression when she was sentenced to five years for casting a ballot in Texas, has gone into federal prison at the start of her ordeal.

Mason, 43, surrendered voluntarily on Thursday to authorities and was taken into federal prison in Fort Worth, Texas. She left her three children behind.

In her final Facebook post before she went inside, she wrote: “This fight is not over, I’m glad God choose me for this journey. I’m walking in there no tears and head hung high …”

Mason’s crime was to cast a ballot in the 2016 presidential election. An African American woman, she had been encouraged by her mother to do her civic duty and vote, in her case on behalf of Hillary Clinton.

When she turned up to the polling station her name was not on the register, so she cast a provisional ballot that was never counted. She did not read the small print of the form that said that anyone who has been convicted of a felony – as she had, having previously been convicted of tax fraud – was prohibited from voting under Texas law.

The Guardian highlighted her plight last month.

For casting a vote that was not counted, she will now serve 10 months in the federal system. While locked up it is likely that her final appeals in state court will be exhausted, which means she could be passed at the end of the 10 months directly to state custody for a further five years.

Her lawyer, Alison Grinter, said she was dismayed to see Mason ripped from her family. “This is an act of voter intimidation, not the will of a free people.”

Grinter added: “Make no mistake: this is a clarion call to our over-policed and over-prosecuted communities of color. You are not welcome in the voting booth, and any step out of line will be punished to the fullest extent of the law.”

Mason’s case is one of the more dramatic examples of voter suppression in Texas. The state has been at the forefront of Republican moves to place hurdles in the way of voting since 2013 when the US supreme court overturned a key element of the Voting Right Acts that had prevented largely southern states from discriminating against minority citizens.

The state has one of the most strict voter ID laws in the country, requiring individuals to show proof of identity, and to register to vote at least 30 days before any election. Fort Worth, under its Republican district attorney, has been particularly hardline, not only prosecuting Mason but also going after a Hispanic woman, Rosa Ortega, for mistakenly voting as a non-US citizen.

Ortega, 37, who had permanent resident status in the US having come to the country as an infant, was sentenced to eight years in prison to be followed by deportation to her native Mexico. Since her conviction she has disappeared and is presumed to have self-deported.

Fort Worth’s harsh treatment of illegal voters is paradoxical in that it has among the worst turnout rates in America. In recent city council elections, the turnout was 6%.

Email This Page

e-max.it: your social media marketing partner
 

Comments   

A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

 
+16 # elizabethblock 2018-09-29 12:50
May I remind people that in Canada, not only may ex-prisoners, including felons, vote, but people still in prison may vote as well. And the country has not disintegrated.
 
 
+15 # BetaTheta 2018-09-29 14:02
Congratulations , Texas. You now have political prisoners. Let us hope Amnesty International takes note.
 
 
+15 # elkingo 2018-09-29 14:06
These draconian sentences for these minuscule technical violations are perfectly emblematic of the racist fascism of the entire government culture that needs to be scrubbed out, as regards laws and individuals who enforce such. Sadism should not be a qualification for office. Justice tempered by what...?
 
 
+7 # SusanT136 2018-10-01 14:23
I'm sure her attorney tried this angle, but wouldn't you think that since her vote was not counted, technically she could not be charged with the "crime" of voting? The system worked the way it is supposed to in terms of preventing ballots that are not legally proper from being cast. Ridiculous to put her in prison for 5 years. Contrast that to all the legal voters who cast ballots that should have been counted and were not. No penalties paid there by Kris Kobach or others of his ilk.

BTW a person convicted of a second degree felony of sexual assault in Texas can be sentenced to as little as 2 years. If that doesn't make you see red with rage there's something wrong with you.