The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals urged a lower appeals court on Wednesday to review the case of Crystal Mason, The Texas Tribune reports. The court convicted her of illegally casting a ballot in the 2016 presidential election.
Mason was on supervised release for a federal crime when she cast a provisional ballot in the election.
Mason alleged to the Tarrant County Second Court of Appeals that she was unaware of her ineligibility. Still, the court upheld her conviction, saying this was “irrelevant.”
Now, the Court of Criminal Appeals has said the court wrongly upheld the sentence, which possibly opens the door for Mason’s conviction to be overturned.
After the Tarrant County ruling, her attorneys appealed to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals for assistance. Mason said if she had known her status as an unregistered voter, she would not have voted in the election.
The Court of Criminal Appeals instructed the lower court to “assess the adequacy” of Mason’s evidence before sending it back up for further consideration.
Mason released a statement Wednesday, saying, “I am glad that the court recognized concerns with my conviction and am ready to protect myself against these horrible charges.”
In 2016, a poll worker advised Mason to cast a provisional ballot after realizing she was not on the voter list. Her vote was invalidated since she was still under judicial supervision, but she was arrested a few months later.
Her prosecution hinges on an affidavit Mason signed before voting that said, in part, “My sentence has been completed, including any probation, jail, monitoring, or parole I may have received, and I have been granted clemency.”
A poll worker claimed he saw Mason address each word of the affidavit before voting, but Mason claimed she had not read it in its entirety when asked about the document. Additionally, a probation officer on Mason’s case testified that no one informed Mason she was still ineligible to vote.
In its ruling, the Court of Criminal Appeals held that Texas election law requires that a person know they are ineligible to vote before being convicted.
“To construe the statute to mean that a person can be guilty even if she does not ‘know the person is not eligible to vote’ is to disregard the words the Legislature intended,” the court wrote.
According to The Texas Tribune report, the court did decide against Mason on two other counts. They rejected her claim that the lower court had interpreted state voting legislation to make the good faith filing of provisional votes illegal.
They also denied her claim that the court of appeals had mistakenly ruled she “voted in an election” despite her ballot being invalidated.
The Texas Tribune reports that prosecutors in Tarrant County insist they are not criminalizing anyone who votes by mistake, but they say Mason’s case concerns intent. The affidavit she completed when she submitted her provisional ballot was the key to the prosecution’s case against her.
Interesting, I thought the purpose of a provisional ballot was to confirm voting eligibility? I’m hearing that in Texas provisional ballots are not even counted unless there is a runoff or A recount that the provisional ballots would make a difference. This seems like a blatant example of Republicans grasping at straws to threaten certain elements of Texas voters.