Democrats continue to bury their heads in the sand as they claim that voter fraud isn’t real. But in Fort Worth on March 28, 2018, Crystal Mason was convicted of illegal voting in the 2016 general election and sentenced to five years in the Institutional Division of the Texas Department of Corrections.

You see, Crystal was a convicted felon. She ran a tax preparation business and lied on the returns to the IRS, pocketing for herself a cool $4.5 million. She was prosecuted for the felony by the U.S. Attorney’s office, and in 2011 was sentenced to five years in federal prison and an additional 10 years of supervised release.

Shortly after getting out, she decided to exercise her “civic duty” by registering to vote in Tarrant County. The Elections Office denied her registration because she was a felon. However, Crystal didn’t let that deter her. She showed up at the City of Everman polling location on November 8, 2016.

The Election Judge couldn’t verify her registration, so he gave her a provisional ballot on which she signed an oath stating she had not been convicted of a felony.

You should know that Crystal is no stranger to signing government documents. In her experience in the federal criminal justice system, she signed dozens of documents. As a former Notary Public, she took oaths for the State of Texas, and as a tax preparer, she had hundreds of people sign sworn statements in front of her.

But Mason’s defense was that she didn’t know what she was signing and just trusted the election clerk. At what point did this country evolve to deny personal responsibility for one’s own actions?

Illegal voting in Texas is a second-degree felony that carries a punishment of 2 to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. Upon hearing the evidence, Judge Ruben Gonzalez found Mason guilty of illegal voting and sentenced her to five years. Mason has appealed.

Does five years sound harsh for a lady who voted illegally “by accident?” Sure. But remember that she was already on supervised release for filing fraudulent tax returns, the felony that made her ineligible to vote.

There has been public criticism of the sentence imposed on Mason. I’m not sure people really understand the factors that went into determining the punishment. A lot of this is due to the limited information that has been made public. I was able to attend portions of the trial throughout the day.

What if I told you that she had two previous arrests for theft and an arrest for family violence? Would that change your mind about her character? Did you know that she also had a felony conviction for food stamp fraud in 2012? You should also be aware that she was convicted of felony forgery of checks in 2004, and convicted of arson when she tried to burn a lady’s house down in Arlington in 1992.

I should mention that the first time she received probation, it was revoked for committing a new felony and absconding. The second time she was on felony probation, she was arrested for theft, absconded from supervision, and tested positive for methamphetamines. She violated her third probation by committing the federal felony.

She was on her fourth felony probation when she illegally voted. In fact, Crystal could have been sentenced as a habitual offender and received from 25 to 99 years in prison.

it is a common misconception that people previously convicted of a felony are ineligible to vote forever. Texas law allows felons to have their voting rights restored once they have “fully discharged the person’s sentence, including any term of incarceration, parole, or supervision, or completed a period of probation ordered by any court.” In fact, engaging in civic responsibilities is strongly correlated to reduced recidivism. We should encourage former felons to vote, once they are eligible, just as we should encourage non-engaged citizens and newly sworn citizens.

Voting is the core power of the citizen. When a person who is ineligible to vote chooses to undermine the electoral process, we the people no longer get to dictate our future. I hope this story goes out to those who wish to bend the rules and defraud the political process for which so many have sacrificed life and limb, so they may be discouraged from even considering voting when ineligible.

Conservative principles are founded on three simple concepts: smaller government, fiscal responsibility, and personal accountability. People have asked me if Mason is Republican or Democrat, but I really don’t care. Regardless of political affiliation, illegal voting is illegal voting and brings consequences.

Alex Kim

Alex Kim is a criminal defense attorney in Tarrant County, Texas, and candidate for the 323rd District Court.