[Pnews] Crystal Mason begins prison sentence in Texas for crime of voting
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Mon Oct 1 10:12:51 EDT 2018
Crystal Mason begins prison sentence in Texas for crime of voting
Ed Pilkington - Fri 28 Sep 2018
Crystal Mason, the woman who became the poster child for voter
suppression when she was sentenced to five years for casting a ballot in
Texas <https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/texas>, has gone into federal
prison at the start of her ordeal.
Mason, 43, surrendered voluntarily on Thursday to authorities and was
taken into federal prison in Fort Worth, Texas. She left her three
In her final Facebook post before she went inside, she wrote: “This
fight is not over, I’m glad God choose me for this journey. I’m walking
in there no tears and head hung high …”
Mason’s crime was to cast a ballot in the 2016 presidential election. An
African American woman, she had been encouraged by her mother to do her
civic duty and vote, in her case on behalf of Hillary Clinton.
When she turned up to the polling station her name was not on the
register, so she cast a provisional ballot that was never counted. She
did not read the small print of the form that said that anyone who has
been convicted of a felony – as she had, having previously been
convicted of tax fraud – was prohibited from voting under Texas law.
The Guardian highlighted
her plight last month.
For casting a vote that was not counted, she will now serve 10 months in
the federal system. While locked up it is likely that her final appeals
in state court will be exhausted, which means she could be passed at the
end of the 10 months directly to state custody for a further five years.
Her lawyer, Alison Grinter, said she was dismayed to see Mason ripped
from her family. “This is an act of voter intimidation, not the will of
a free people.”
Grinter added: “Make no mistake: this is a clarion call to our
over-policed and over-prosecuted communities of color. You are not
welcome in the voting booth, and any step out of line will be punished
to the fullest extent of the law.”
Mason’s case is one of the more dramatic examples of voter suppression
in Texas. The state has been at the forefront of Republican moves to
place hurdles in the way of voting since 2013 when the US supreme court
overturned a key element of the Voting Right Acts that had prevented
largely southern states from discriminating against minority citizens.
The state has one of the most strict voter ID laws in the country,
requiring individuals to show proof of identity, and to register to vote
at least 30 days before any election. Fort Worth, under its Republican
district attorney, has been particularly hardline, not only prosecuting
Mason but also going after a Hispanic woman, Rosa Ortega, for mistakenly
voting as a non-US citizen.
Ortega, 37, who had permanent resident status in the US having come to
the country as an infant, was sentenced to eight years in prison to be
followed by deportation to her native Mexico. Since her conviction she
has disappeared and is presumed to have self-deported.
Fort Worth’s harsh treatment of illegal voters is paradoxical in that it
has among the worst turnout rates in America. In recent city council
elections, the turnout was 6%.
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