Topline

Texas’ top criminal appeals court on Wednesday ordered a lower appeals court to review the illegal voting conviction for Crystal Mason, a Black woman who was controversially sentenced to five years in prison for to vote in the 2016 presidential election despite being inligible, in a case that’s sparked national outrage from voting rights advocates .

Key Facts

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The all-Republican Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled a lower appeals court must take into consideration whether Mason knew she was legally unable to vote.

Mason’s legal team has argued she was unaware that she was inligible to vote in 2016, while she was on supervised release following a federal tax fraud conviction.

Mason filled out a provisional ballot in the 2016 election at a Tarrant County polling site after learning she was not on the voter roll, but the ballot was rejected and Mason was ultimately arrested.

Before casting the ballot, Mason signed an affidavit affirming that she had completed “any term of incarceration, parole, supervision, period of probation, or I have been pardoned” after being convicted of a felony, but Mason claims she did not read the whole document.

The lower court determined in a 2018 bench trial that signing the affidavit was sufficient grounds for a conviction, but the Court of Criminal Appeals ruled Wednesday that the court “erred by concluding that her knowledge of her ineligibility to vote was irrelevant to her prosecution.”