The highest criminal court in Texas ruled that the controversial conviction of a Black woman who unlawfully voted in 2016 must be looked over once again.
On Wednesday (May 11), the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ordered a lower court to review Crystal Mason's illegal voting conviction, stemming from her participation in the 2016 General Election.
In 2018, Mason was convicted of illegally casting a vote in 2016 while she was on supervised release after serving time on prior federal tax evasion charges. Mason's attorney has maintained that she had no idea about not being able to vote because she hadn't completed her sentence at the time.
Mason was not listed on the election rolls and ended up using a provisional ballot –– which was ultimately not tallied in the election. She was sentenced to five years in prison and is currently out on bond.
The Court of Criminal Appeals said that the lower court made a mistake in upholding Mason's conviction by "failing to require proof that [Mason] had actual knowledge that it was a crime for her to vote while on supervised release."
State law requires that in order to convict someone of illegally voting in this situation, the state "has to show that the person knew that they were ineligible to vote," ACLU of Texas attorney Tommy Buser-Clancy said in an interview with NPR.
"What this decision says is that innocent mistakes can't be prosecuted," Buser-Clancy said.
The case is now headed back to the lower court of appeals to be reviewed with this new set of instructions from the higher court.