The American Civil Liberties Union and the Texas Civil Rights Project have teamed up to help Crystal Mason, the Texas woman sentenced to five years in jail after unintentionally committing voter fraud.
The groups, which contain some of the top voting rights lawyers in the nation, made the exciting announcement last Friday, HuffPost reported. Attorneys for both organizations will assist Mason’s current legal team.
“I am very excited to have the ACLU of Texas and the Texas Civil Rights Project joining me in my fight,” Mason said. “I am very grateful and I hope that justice will prevail here.”
In 2018, Mason was convicted of illegally voting in the 2016 presidential election while still on supervised release for a prior felony conviction. The 44-year-old mother of three insists she was unaware her conviction made her ineligible to vote.
After receiving a five-year sentence in her state case, Mason was slapped with an additional 10 months in federal prison after being convicted of a crime while still on federal supervised release. That sentence also came with an additional 26 months of supervised release.
Lawyers have argued that Mason deserves a new trial, considering that the provisional ballot she cast ultimately was not counted in the election. They made their case before the Court of Appeals in November, also arguing that the statute under which Mason was convicted is too vague.
Her team of attorneys are now calling on the court to either reverse the previous conviction and acquit Mason of illegal voting or order a brand new trial.
“The prosecution of Crystal Mason for the innocent mistake of casting a provisional ballot that wasn’t even counted is a severe injustice,” Andre Segura, legal director for the ACLU of Texas, said in a statement. “Ms. Mason simply attempted to follow the law and participate in what she believed to be her civic duty, and in return has been sentenced to an outrageous length of time in prison.
“The ACLU of Texas, the National ACLU Voting Rights Project, and the Texas Civil Rights Project will vigorously defend Ms. Mason against these unwarranted charges,” he added.
Beth Stevens, voting rights legal director for the Texas Civil Rights Project, called Mason’s case a “story of injustice.”
“State leaders have pursued dozens of prosecutions against individuals who have, at worst, made simple mistakes in the voting process in order to justify a statewide anti-voter agenda,” she said. “And unfortunately, Ms. Mason has been trapped in a political back-and-forth that threatens to deprive her of her liberty.”
The five-year sentence from the state of Texas for an inadvertent mistake stands in sharp contrast to cases of others who have committed deliberate voter and election fraud and escaped punishment.
Mason was released from a federal prison last week and is now staying in a halfway house. Her state sentence of five years would start after her release from the halfway house if her appeals are unsuccessful.