African American Woman Going to Prison for Voting

By Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan
Sep 06, 2018

On Nov. 8, 2016, Crystal Mason, an African-American mom of three, went to the polls and voted. Hers became a provisional ballot, however, as she hadn’t been to her polling position near Citadel Price, Texas, for a couple of years. She had been in penitentiary for tax-related offenses, and was beneath federal supervised unencumber. “I went to the native church, where I went earlier than I went to penitentiary, to vote,” she talked about on the “Democracy Now!” news hour. “When they appeared on the roster, they realized my identify wasn’t there … when I got able to stroll away, they stopped me and that they informed me, ‘Hey, you can fill out a provisional ballot. … If you’re on the right place, it will count number. And in case you’re now not, it received’t.’ I didn’t see any hurt with that. So the woman sat me down and helped me out with it.”

What Crystal didn’t know became that in Texas, you can’t vote whereas on parole or supervised unencumber. What came about subsequent is difficult to accept as true with. She became charged with voter fraud, convicted and sentenced to fi years in penitentiary. On properly of that shock, a federal choose dominated that as a result of she violated the phrases of her supervised unencumber — for vote casting in Texas — she ought to spend an extra 10 months in federal penitentiary, on properly of the fi-year state sentence that she is attractive.

“There is completely no cause Crystal need to were prosecuted,” Kim Cole, Mason’s legal professional, said on “Democracy Now!” “She became not conscious that she was now not eligible to vote.” Provisional ballots exist exactly for individuals who are doubtful about their eligibility to vote. They allow an individual to vote — provisionally — until election officers can examine, after election day, whether the voter became eligible or now not. If now not, the pollis now not counted. It’s that basic.

…Compare Crystal Mason’s case with that of Terri Lynn Rote, a white girl in Iowa who became convicted of voter fraud for attempting to vote for President Donald Trump twice. Rote became sentenced to 2 years’ probation and fined $750.

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