A Texas woman has recently been sentenced to 5 years in prison after illegally voting in the 2016 presidential election.
Crystal Mason, a 43-year-old African American woman, had been found guilty of tax fraud in 2011 and sentenced to 60 months. During the time she cast her ballot, she was still on probation. Unbeknownst to Mason, Texas law prohibits a felon from voting while they are still serving their sentence. This act of illegal voting is considered a second-degree felony, one “punishable by up to 20 years in prison.” Mason claims that she did not read the fine print, considering that an election worker was helping her with a provisional ballot.
Her defense attorney, J. Warren St. John states “that Mason was never told in court, prison, or her halfway house that she couldn’t vote until the entirety of her sentence was complete.”
Moreover, St. John notes that Mason accurately filled out the rest of her information, as to not hide or obstruct her identity. On paper, she didn’t intend to vote illegally.
A similar story comes out of Texas again, back in 2017. 37-year-old Rosa Maria Ortega was sentenced to a grueling 8 years behind bars by a Fort Worth, Texas judge. As a green-card holder, Ortega voted in both the 2012 and 2014 elections, unaware that her actions were illegal. Although she did, quite questionably, check the box for “United States citizen” in 2012 and 2014, Ortega quotes that she “voted like a U.S. citizen” and thought she “was doing something right.”
While both of these individuals were punished severely for their crimes, that isn’t always the case. Terri Lynn Rote, 56, pled guilty to voting illegally after attempting to cast a second ballot in an Iowa voting center in 2017. After claiming that the incident was “a spur-of-the-moment thing”, Rote was charged with a minute 2-year probation and $750 fine.
As stated by Jay Willis, “Crystal Mason’s sentence is not law enforcement, inasmuch as that term refers to good-faith efforts to protect this country’s elections from legitimate threats.” Race disparity in the legal system has ceased to disappear since the beginning of time. In research conducted from 2012 through 2016, The United States Sentencing Commission found that “black offenders received sentences on average 19.1 percent longer than similarly situated white male offenders.”
With this attitude of racial bias flooding the country, it seems as though minority citizens must be absolutely perfect in all aspects of voting. Whether it be specific voter ID requirements, stringent proof-of-citizenship, or covert fine print, “state-sanctioned voter intimidation” is crystal clear.