The League of Women Voters of Texas is incredibly disappointed by the Fort Worth Court of Appeals’ ruling. "We are appalled that Crystal Mason’s five-year jail sentence was affirmed even though her provisional ballot had been rejected and was never counted," said Grace Chimene, President of the League of Women Voters of Texas. “Our democracy was so precious to Crystal Mason that she wanted to vote. This is an injustice to Crystal and to our democracy. The ruling undermines the whole meaning of ‘provisional ballots.’”
In 2019, the League of Women Voters of Texas joined as amicus in Mason-Hobbs v. Texas, arguing that genuine confusion around voter eligibility does not violate Texas state law. The brief was filed in support of Ms. Mason-Hobbs, a returning citizen who was sentenced to five years in jail for voting in the 2016 presidential election.
Mason-Hobbs believed she was eligible to vote after previously being released from prison, but her voting status was complicated by the fact that she was still on federal supervised release. Her provisional ballot was ultimately denied, and her vote did not count towards any election.
“In recent elections, we have seen more participation of returning citizens than ever before, yet some states have not met that momentum with education and clarity about when returning citizens are eligible to participate,” said Chris Carson, president of the League of Women Voters of the United States. “This case is an example of a citizen who was obviously unclear about an ambiguous state law and was penalized for her honest confusion.”
The case addresses whether the state of Texas can bring criminal charges against individuals who mistakenly violate the law by casting a ballot before their rights are fully restored.
The League of Women Voters of Texas challenges all efforts and tactics that threaten our democracy and limit the ability of voters to exercise their right to vote. "We envision a democracy where every person has the desire, the right, the knowledge and the confidence to participate," stated Chimene.
League to which this content belongs:Texas