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Prosecutor files appeal after Texas woman’s illegal voting conviction overturned

By Andy Rose, CNN

(CNN) — A Texas woman whose conviction for illegal voting in 2016 was overturned on appeal may end up back in court.

The Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office filed an appeal Thursday, asking for the state’s top court to reinstate Crystal Mason’s conviction after it was overturned in March.

“Voting is a cornerstone of our democracy,” the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office said in a statement Thursday. “This office will protect the ballot box from fraudsters who think our laws don’t apply to them.”

Mason, a mother of three, was sentenced to five years in prison after she voted in the 2016 election, despite being on supervised release following a conviction for felony tax fraud. Mason said she did not realize her felony conviction made her ineligible to vote, and the Texas Second Court of Appeals ruled last month there was insufficient evidence to prove Mason knowingly cast her provisional ballot illegally.

“It is disappointing that the state has chosen to request further review of Ms. Mason’s case, but we are confident that justice will ultimately prevail,” said senior staff attorney Tommy Buser-Clancy with the ACLU of Texas, which has represented Mason in the case. “The court of appeals’ decision was well reasoned and correct. It is time to give Ms. Mason peace with her family.”

Voting rights activists have compared Mason’s case to other voter fraud convictions involving White defendants who received more lenient sentences.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which helped represent Mason, previously called the overturning of her conviction a victory.

“The court’s move to reverse the conviction shows that nobody should face conviction or prison time for at worst an unintentional mistake made while trying to exercise their civic duty,” the ACLU said in a March statement.

“Crystal Mason has bravely fought this grave injustice for years now. No one should be forced to endure what she has, and Crystal’s victory today is an inspiration and cause for celebration,” said Sophia Lin Lakin, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, at the time of the decision.

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CNN’s Rashard Rose and Sara Smart contributed to this report.

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