Black Woman Sentenced to 5 Years in Prison for Casting Illegal Ballot Will Not Get New Trial


A Texas woman and ex-offender who received a harsh five-year jail sentence for voting illegally will not get a new trial, a judge decided Monday.


According to the New York Times, Judge Ruben Gonzalez, the same judge who sentenced 43-year-old Crystal Mason to the lengthy jail term, turned down her bid for a retrial.

In a March 28 trial that lasted only a day, Mason was convicted of voting illegally in the 2016 election. Her status as a felon—Mason was sentenced to jail for tax fraud in 2011—made it illegal for her to cast a ballot.

But Mason says that no one told her she was ineligible to vote: not her supervision officer, not the judge who sentenced her and not the election workers who helped her fill out a provisional ballot.

Felony disenfranchisement happens across the U.S., but laws vary widely among states. In California and New York, people convicted of a felony can vote once their incarceration and parole have been completed. In Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania, disenfranchisement ends upon a person’s release from prison. Some states require individuals to petition the court to reinstate their rights. In Texas, ex-offenders are eligible to vote again after they’ve completed their sentence, parole and probation.

While Mason was on supervised release, her sentence still wasn’t technically complete.


As the Times reports, Mason’s case drew national attention for its hefty sentence. A petition circulated online after her conviction that called for all the charges against her to be dropped:

In the petition her photo is placed next to a photo of Terri Lynn Rote, a white woman who was convicted of voter fraud in Iowa for trying to vote for President Trump twice. Ms. Rote was sentenced to two years’ probation and a $750 fine. The petition has over 38,000 signatures.


Following Gonzalez’s decision this week, Mason told the Times: “I showed my kids that no matter what you can get out and get your life in order. But sometimes, regardless of whatever your past is, you are still going to be beat up for it.”

She plans to appeal the judge’s decision.

Staff writer, The Root.



So a black woman gets 5 years for casting a vote she didn’t know was illegal to cast, and a white woman who intentionally voted twice got 2 years probation and a small fine.

Yup. This is America.