Texas appeals court acquits woman convicted of voting illegally in 2016

(Reuters) – A Texas appeals court on Thursday reversed its earlier ruling and acquitted a woman who was sentenced to five years in prison for trying to vote in the 2016 election against state law, after a higher court ordered him to reconsider his decision.

Crystal Mason was convicted of voting illegally two years after that election by a trial court, which ruled that she had attempted to vote provisionally while on probation from prison for a felony and therefore ineligible to vote.

Texas’ Second Court of Criminal Appeals upheld that conviction in 2020, but two years later the state’s highest criminal court ruled that the appeals court did not require proof that Mason knew that it was a crime for her to vote under these circumstances.

The appeals court’s overturning of Mason’s conviction Thursday, after finding that prosecutors had indeed not sufficiently proven that she knew her act was illegal, was welcomed by voting rights advocates as a major victory in one of the US states with the most restrictive voting laws.

Texas is among several Republican-controlled states that have imposed new limits on voting since the 2020 election in which President Joe Biden, a Democrat, defeated Republican incumbent Donald Trump, who falsely claimed fraud election had cost him the race.

“This decision gives us hope not only for Ms. Mason, but also for the broader fight for voting rights in Texas,” Christina Beeler, voting rights attorney at the Texas Civil Rights Project, said in a statement. press release published Thursday.

Supporters have criticized Texas’ restrictions as a disproportionate barrier to black voters, like Mason, as well as Hispanic and other non-white voters who tend to vote for Democrats.

In 2021, the Republican governor of Texas signed a law adding new identification requirements for absentee voting, banning drive-thru and 24-hour voting sites, limiting early voting, empowering partisan election observers and limiting who can help voters who need help due to disability or language. barriers.

A federal…

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