Texas woman gets jail time for voting despite ineligibility

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Highlighting in the most "horrifying" and "insane" manner the way that many states disenfranchise convicted or former felons, a Texas judge is sending a woman to jail for five years for unknowingly casting an illegal vote in the 2016 election when she was on probation.

Mason did not want to speak when reached by WFAA, but she told The Dallas Morning News she "didn't even want to vote".

Mason has "owned up" to her mistakes and claims she would not ever intentionally skirt voting laws. "I was trying to get more money back for my clients".

Mason's defense attorney J. Warren St. John, told the Star-Telegram that an appeal had already been filed and he hoped to get Mason out on bond soon.

The next time she thought about that night she was being arrested. I took accountability for that.

Crystal Mason, 43, illegally voted in the 2016 presidential election, a district judge in Tarrant County ruled.

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To register to vote in Texas, a person must be 18 and a USA citizen and can not be a convicted felon or have been declared mentally incapacitated by a court. "I'd never do that again".

"I was happy enough to come home and see my daughter graduate", she said. "My son is about to graduate", she told the prosecutor in court. "I would never do that again", she said of her prior conviction for tax fraud.

"You think I would jeopardise my freedom?"

Mason grabbed her keys and set out for her local precinct. As part of her plea agreement, she was ordered to pay $4.2 million in restitution, according to court documents.

Mason, who served close to three years in federal prison after pleading guilty to tax fraud in 2011, testified that she was given a provisional ballot when she arrived at her designated polling location and discovered her name wasn't listed on the voter roll. There's no evidence, St. John said, that Mason even read the language on the provisional ballot telling her that people on supervised release are ineligible to vote. She only voted that day because her mother wanted her to, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported. In Texas, convicted felons can have their voting privileges restored after fully completing their sentences.

In February 2017, Rosa Maria Ortega of Grand Prairie, a Mexican national with a green card, was sentenced to eight years in prison after falsely claiming to be a US citizen on her ballot.