A Texas appeals court on Thursday upheld a five-year prison sentence for a woman who was convicted of illegally voting even though she didn’t know she was ineligible when she went to the polls in 2016. The punishment for the Fort Worth woman, Crystal Mason, stirred national outrage because of its severity, prompting accusations that prosecutors were trying to intimidate Texans from voting.
Four years ago, Mason was on supervised release, similar to probation, for a federal felony conviction related to tax fraud. She didn’t know that Texas prohibits felons from voting until they finish their sentence entirely. Mason voted in the last presidential election at the urging of her mother and cast a provisional ballot when poll workers couldn’t find her name on the voter registration rolls. The ballot was never counted because Mason was not an eligible voter.