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.
[Where do states stand on voting rights for felons? Here’s a breakdown.]
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.
Two months ago, a petition was started online to have all charges against Ms. Mason, who is black, thrown out. In the petition her photo is placed next to a photo of Terri Lynn Rote, a white woman who was convicted of voter fraud in Iowa for trying to vote for President Trump twice. Ms. Rote was sentenced to two years’ probation and a $750 fine. The petition has over 38,000 signatures.
As she prepared to appeal the rejection of her motion for a new trial, Ms. Mason said she had high hopes.
“I showed my kids that no matter what you can get out and get your life in order,” said Ms. Mason. “But sometimes, regardless of whatever your past is, you are still going to be beat up for it.”