On Wednesday, The New York Times reported that a top Texas court has ordered a re-examination of a controversial election fraud case that sentenced a Black woman to five years in prison for improperly casting a provisional ballot.
"The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals found that a lower appeals court had incorrectly upheld parts of the conviction of the woman, Crystal Mason, who had voted in the general election in 2016, when she was a felon on probation, and filled out a provisional ballot that was never officially counted or tallied," reported Eduardo Medina. "Ms. Mason has insisted that at the time, she did not know she was ineligible to vote and had been advised by a poll worker to submit her provisional ballot."
"The Second Court of Appeals in Tarrant County had said in 2020 that Ms. Mason’s unawareness 'was irrelevant to her prosecution.' But the Court of Criminal Appeals disagreed, opening a channel for the conviction to be overturned," said the report. "'This is great news for Ms. Mason, but the fight is not over,' Tommy Buser-Clancy, a senior staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas who is representing Ms. Mason, said by phone on Wednesday."
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals is the highest court in the state for reviewing criminal cases; Texas has an unusual two-tracked system where criminal cases go to this court and civil cases go to the state Supreme Court.
Mason's sentence was first handed down in 2018 and has become a rallying cry for activists highlighting the injustice of Texas' voting laws.
This has occurred against a backdrop of Texas GOP politicians moving to make voting laws even stricter in response to record turnout in 2020 that employed new methods, like drive-in voting, of maximizing voter participation in large cities.