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Texas woman gets jail time for voting despite ineligibility

02 April 2018

A Texas woman was sentenced to five years in prison for voting in the 2016 presidential election when she was ineligible because she was on probation.

Crystal Mason, 43, is a convicted felon for tax fraud and illegally voted while on supervised release, the Dallas Morning News reported.

Texas law states it is illegal for a felon to vote while serving their sentence, including while on parole. She previously operated a tax business and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the government for inflating her clients' tax refunds. "She was never told she could not vote, and she voted in good faith ..." Her defense was that no one ever told her she couldn't vote because of her conviction. "I was trying to get more money back for my clients".

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According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Mason said she did not carefully read the form because an election official was helping her. I took accountability for that.

Sacrificing her freedom to vote was not something she would knowingly do, Mason told Gonzales.

In Texas and elsewhere, it is confusing for a person involved in the criminal justice system to know if, when and how they can vote.

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"I was happy enough to come home and see my daughter graduate", she continued. "My son is about to graduate", she told the prosecutor in court. He noted that Mason went to the same polling place where she'd always voted, and used a legitimate driver's license and address. As part of her plea agreement, she was ordered to pay $4.2 million in restitution, according to court documents.

Mason's lawyer filed an appeal and is hopeful about her release. A poll worker helped her fill out a provisional ballot, of the sort given to people who aren't on the rolls, and she cast it. She only voted that day because her mother wanted her to, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.

"Mason, who spent almost three years in federal prison for inflating returns as part of a tax preparation business she ran with her ex-husband, 'owned up" to her previous wrongdoing and said she would never intentionally try to skirt voting laws. In 2017, Rosa Maria Ortega, who is a legal immigrant and a mother of four, was sentenced to eight years for illegally voting in the 2012 general election and the 2014 Republican primary.

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Texas woman gets jail time for voting despite ineligibility