A judge who sentenced a Texas woman to five years in prison for voting illegally because she was a felon turned down on Monday the woman’s bid for a new trial. “Prison is a lot closer for her today,” Alison Grinter, a lawyer for the woman, Crystal Mason, 43, said on Tuesday, noting that her client would appeal the decision to a higher court. Sharen Wilson, the Tarrant County district attorney, declined to comment. Ms. Mason was convicted of illegal voting in a one-day trial held March 28 before Judge Ruben Gonzalez, a state district court judge who sentenced her that day to five years in prison. She has been free on bond pending appeal.
Ms. Mason, who was sentenced to 60 months in jail for tax fraud and was released in early 2016, has said that she didn’t know that she wasn’t allowed to vote in that year’s presidential election. She cast a provisional ballot at her local church after being told that her name could not be found on the rolls.
“Crystal’s name was purged from the rolls when she went to prison, but Crystal did not know that,” Ms. Grinter said in an interview on Tuesday.
Whether felons can vote varies state by state, and has become a contentious issue. More than six million Americans have been stripped of their voting rights because of felony disenfranchisement laws, according to the Sentencing Project, a nonprofit organization that works on criminal justice reform.