Voting Rights Groups Defend Fort Worth Woman Imprisoned For Casting An Illegal Ballot

Our daily look at Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelMay 13, 2019 7:08 am

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

Voting rights groups in Texas have joined the legal defense team for a Fort Worth woman who was sent to prison for casting a ballot while on parole in 2016. Groups say prosecutors have gone too far in punishing someone who made an honest mistake.

Ashley Lopez with KUT News reports.

When Crystal Mason voted in 2016, she had recently been released from prison. Mason has said she thought she had her voting rights back when she was released. But Mason had been let out under a supervised release program to complete the rest of her sentence. So, she wasn’t legally allowed to vote in Texas. Because Mason wasn’t on the voter rolls, she cast a provisional ballot – which wasn’t counted because she wasn’t eligible. But even so, Mason was prosecuted for voting illegally. And she was sent back to prison for it.

Beth Stevens with the Texas Civil Rights Project says her group and the ACLU are intervening because they believe prosecutors went too far.

‘Crystal’s case is particularly egregious in the prosecution itself – for casting a provisional ballot that didn’t count,” Stevens says. “And then to tack on to that, is the outrageous punishment that she received for five years in prison.’

Stevens says Mason was caught up in an ongoing statewide crackdown on supposed voter fraud carried out by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. According to Paxton’s office, their Election Fraud Unit currently has 75 active election fraud investigations, along with 63 counts of election crimes pending prosecution.

The Texas lawmaker who chairs the Congressional Hispanic Caucus is calling for an investigation into the large backlog of immigration cases.

U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro of San Antonio and 81 of his fellow Democrats want the Comptroller General of the United States to look into this issue. They say, that currently, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has a backlog of 2.3 million cases.

The Democratic lawmakers write in the letter sent Friday, “Processing delays for applications and immigration benefits have reached crisis levels and these delays are hurting families and businesses that depend on timely applications.”

They add that the overall average processing times for USCIS cases increasing 46 percent since Fiscal Year 2016.

A Texas teenager has set the state and national high school record for the 100-meter-dash. Strake Jesuit senior Matthew Boling ran that race in 10.13 seconds at the University Interscholastic League state track and field championships held in Austin over the weekend. The previous record was held by Henry Neal at 10.15 seconds.


Boling told KHOU, the local CBS-affiliate in Houston, he feeds off the crowd’s energy.

“Uh, I look up and whenever I see the crowd get up and start videoing and watching, it definitely gets me hype,” Boling said. “That’s what I love about the 100 – everyone comes to really watch it and it’s really fun.”

Boling became a viral sensation after running the 100-meter dash in 9.98 seconds last month. That did not qualify as a national record because it was aided by wind speeds that exceeded the legal limit for track and field.