A Black grandmother from Texas can finally move on from the state’s aggressive prosecution of her provisional ballot cast in 2016 that was never counted as a vote. Yes, there is finally justice for Crystal Mason as her conviction for illegal voting was reversed, resulting in an acquittal, in what is seen as a major victory for voting rights.

The Texas Second Court of Appeals on Thursday reversed the conviction on Thursday evening after the court said the condition that there is proof the person knew they were ineligible was not met in this case, as there was no evidence Crystal Mason knew she was ineligible to vote when she cast her ballot.

Mason was originally sentenced to five years in prison for casting a provisional ballot in the 2016 election while on supervised release for federal tax evasion, even though she believed she was fulfilling her civic duty and didn’t realize she was ineligible to vote.

“I am overjoyed to see my faith rewarded today,” said Crystal Mason. “I was thrown into this fight for voting rights and will keep swinging to ensure no one else has to face what I’ve endured for over six years, a political ploy where minority voting rights are under attack. I’ve cried and prayed every night for over six years straight that I would remain a free Black woman. I thank everyone whose dedication and support carried me through this time and look forward to celebrating this moment with my family and friends.”

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“The case thrust Mason, who is Black, into the political fray amid a Republican-led crackdown on voter fraud, partly fueled by baseless claims of rampant illegal voting,” the Texas Tribune pointed out.

It’s a victory that Mason was finally acquitted of this obvious voter intimidation tactic, but it also never should have happened. If we look at the larger point of laws like Texas’ voter laws, we see that they have a chilling effect on Black voters, which serves Republicans’ purposes. So Republican laws are working to intimidate voters who often do not vote for them.

The conviction of Mason and subsequent harassment is meant to serve as a warning to others not to vote.

“We are very glad that the court followed the rule of law. It is clear that the state’s prosecution against Crystal was malicious and purely politically motivated,” Kim T. Cole, the civil attorney for Crystal Mason said.

“The state’s prosecution specifically stated that they wanted to ‘send a message’ to voters. They deliberately put Crystal through over six years of pure hell. She woke up every morning not knowing if that would be the day that her freedom would be stolen from her.”

And that is exactly the point of these laws: To send a message to voters who tend to vote for Democrats. It is nakedly partisan and wickedly anti-freedom.

It shouldn’t be lost on people that it is Republicans who keep getting convicted for intent to commit voter fraud. Just yesterday, a Georgia judge ruled that Brian K. Pritchard, the vice chair of the state Republican Party and a conservative talk show host, voted illegally nine times by voting while on felony probation for check forgery. Even though he claimed that the 2020 election was fraudulent, he will only need to pay $5,000.00, so his life is not being upended, nor is he being subjected to harassment as the “face” of illegal voting.

This kind of thuggish attempt to frighten opponents into not voting is a clear indication of the authoritarian leanings the Republican Party has embraced under Donald Trump. Freedom is precious, and very hard to keep.

Image: American Civil Liberties Union


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