FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) - On May 11 the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals sent the case of a Black woman who was convicted in State court of illegal voting back to a lower court for further evaluation..
In the ruling the court said the State had to show that Mason actually realized she was ineligible to vote when she submitted the ballot in the November 2016 election. It sent the case back to the lower court to decide that issue.
According to a statement from the Texas Civil Rights Project, Mason believed she was fulfilling her civic duty and did not know the state considered her ineligible to vote. Mason was on supervised release, after serving three years in prison on a federal fraud case, when she voted and Texas law prohibits voting by a person still serving a sentence for a crime.
"I am pleased that the Court acknowledged issues with my conviction, and am ready to defend myself against these cruel charges," Mason said. "My life has been upended for what was, at worst, an innocent misunderstanding of casting a provisional ballot that was never even counted. I have been called to this fight for voting rights and will continue to serve my community."
The decision by the high court comes after the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, the ACLU, the Texas Civil Rights Project, and several criminal defense attorneys asked for a review of Mason's previous conviction.
"This Court's decision today gives us hope not just for Ms. Mason, but for the broader fight for voting rights in Texas," said Hani Mirza, Voting Rights Program Director at the Texas Civil Rights Project.
Mason's attorney, Alison Grinter Allen, said, "We are grateful for Crystal's continued freedom and for the progress made in the fight so far. There is more work ahead in this fight, but we aren't tired. The just result is clear and we have faith that Crystal and all Texans will see a day when they can vote in good faith and without fear that a felony prosecution could be behind any mistake or misunderstanding."
Mason, a mother of four, has always maintained that she didn't realize that she was violating the law by voting. In a previous interview she said, "I had no idea I was going to do something that was going to jeopardize my freedom again.
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