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Texas Woman Gets 5 Years in Prison for the Crime of Not Realizing She Couldn’t Vote

An obsession with election fraud leads to cruel punishments.

Crystal MasonTarrant County JailCrystal Mason, 43, threw herself on the mercy of the court in Texas. She broke the law, she admitted, but she didn't know what she was doing was illegal. Now a judge has sentenced her to prison for five years.

Mason's crime: She voted in the 2016 election. She's a felon who served nearly three years in federal prison for helping people inflate their tax returns. In Texas, felons can get their right to vote restored after release, but under state law, they have to have completed their entire sentence, and that includes any sort of parole or post-release sentence. Mason was on supervised release from her conviction. Now she's going back to jail for a sentence that's even longer than what she received for the initial crime that temporarily stripped her of her right to vote.

According to the Star-Telegram in Fort Worth, Mason was handed a provisional ballot when she went to vote last November because she wasn't on the voter rolls. She says an election worker was helping her and she didn't read the whole affidavit she had to sign declaring that she could legally vote. And she said she wasn't told by anybody that she couldn't legally vote until she had completed her supervised release.

She says she didn't even want to vote, but her mother pressured her into it.

"I was happy enough to come home and see my daughter graduate," she told the court. "My son is about to graduate. Why would I jeopardize that? Not to vote … I didn't even want to go vote."

Mason waived a jury trial and asked District Judge Robert Gonzalez to sentence her. The Star-Telegram doesn't indicate what Gonzalez said as justification for a five-year prison sentence. Under Texas law, Gonzalez could have sentenced her from two to 20 years of probation or prison.

Mason's case highlights both the arbitrariness and the cruelty in how states use a person's criminal history as a way of stripping them of their say in a democratic republic. The harshness of Mason's sentence bears absolutely no relationship to any damage that may have been caused by her illegal vote, because there was no damage. It is a law whose wording is unconnected to preventing harms and is instead a way of punishing citizens for not grasping the complexity of state rules. Oh, and of course, it's going to cost the state's taxpayers tons of money to keep her behind bars.

Well, at least she's an American citizen and is not going to get deported afterward. Mason's case is being compared to that of Rosa Maria Ortega, a legal U.S. resident and green card holder (and a conservative) who was apparently unaware that she could not legally vote because she wasn't a full citizen. Last year she was sentenced to eight years in prison for voting and faces deportation. This was in Tarrant County, the same county that tossed the book at Mason.

It's also clearly and obviously a result with the obsession that widespread fraud is affecting vote outcomes. This sort of disproportionate response is deliberately designed to hurt people like Mason for easily understandable and explainable mistakes to scare some voters. It apparently is working.

"I don't think I'll ever vote again," Mason said after she was indicted.

Photo Credit: Tarrant County Jail

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  • cereal_shake||

    Wow, that seems like an awfully long time.

  • Longtobefree||

    The range is 2 to 20 years. The judge picked 5 years. On the low end, probably based on the prior record?
    Just a guess.

    First clue to the lady was that she was not on the voter rolls.
    Second clue was being handed an affidavit.
    Third clue was being on supervised release, meaning the man has his eye on everything you do.

    While she seems sympathetic, what if the election had been determined by one vote? Of by ten votes and 15 others like here were not caught?

    Lesson for the day: Your Mom ain't always right. If you are 46 years old, you are responsible for what you do and for what you do not do (as in read the damn affidavit)

    Just for the record: my personal position is if you are not incarcerated, you should have full rights.

  • cereal_shake||

    Yeah, no, people who attack and injure other people get less time quite regularly, even after repeated incidents of violence.

    It is waaaaaaaay too long, sorry.

  • SIV||

    Voters attack and injure me by consenting to be governed. Fuck 'em.

  • Hugh Akston||

    While she seems sympathetic, what if the election had been determined by one vote? Of by ten votes and 15 others like here were not caught?

    What if it was?

  • Sometimes a Great Notion||

    Some other asshole would win.

  • ||

    Just voting means you lose! You deny your sovereignty when you try to authorize someone to rule you. It's your freedom, so you have the right to forfeit it politically. But voting is more. Voters claim everyone is subject to be ruled, regardless if they vote, or if their candidate won. What if only one person voted? Is that enough to "authorize" a ruler? In some cases, the elected ruler gets less than 10% of the total who are eligible to register/vote. Is this silent witness to the futility of elections or the illusion of choice, or both? I say it's all that and more. A boycott of the vote could be a rejection of the authoritarian assumption that the biggest gang can legitimize rule. And more. If every person on earth voted to be enslaved (ruled), it would be an inhuman, anti-life, anti-social mistake. It creates social chaos and economic exploitation. It's not psychologically healthy to self-enslave.

  • JuanQPublic||

    ...what if the election had been determined by one vote? Of by ten votes and 15 others like here were not caught?

    Why are you asking this question if you have this position:

    Just for the record: my personal position is if you are not incarcerated, you should have full rights.

    So, if her vote decided the election, so what? If you fundamentally believe she should have full rights, why does the question about the consequences of her vote matter in the first place?

  • dave b.||

    While she seems sympathetic, what if the election had been determined by one vote?

    No election will ever be decided by one vote. The one vote would just determine which team starts the recount litigation, so even that doesn't matter.

  • Emotional Opposition Animal||

    Last year there was a state representative election in Virginia that ended in a tie.

  • JFree||

    Oh bullshit. If the state takes away your right AS A CITIZEN to vote, then it should be up to the state to decide whether you can actually vote. Not hand you an affidavit and gotcha you into a criminal again.

    the people in jail should be the ones who wrote this sort of shit into law. the people who shouldn't be allowed to vote are all who voted for them.

  • Presskh||

    The woman was not on the voter registration laws. She had to sign an affidavit to register to vote, just like any other unregistered voter. 5 years seems harsh but there has to be some penalty to discourage people from illegally voting. The harsh penalty was no doubt because she was a convicted felon on supervised release, which probably means she was allowed out of her sentence early under supervision.

  • JFree||

    The woman was not on the voter registration laws.

    The state is the only one who legally knows why she is not eligible to vote. Because they are the ones who made that right conditional - and who also establish the conditions - and affirmatively coerce the voter into those conditions - and isn't legally required to inform the voter that they are not eligible to vote or that they ARE now eligible to vote.

    She had to sign an affidavit to register to vote, just like any other unregistered voter.

    Said affidavit - in being used to send her to prison - is a violation of her 5th amendment right against self-incrimination. Esp since in this case only the state actually knows whether she has legally met the conditions of her parole.

    The only legitimate purpose of this sort of affidavit is when the voter is providing information that the state DOESN'T know - like maybe are you currently registered to vote in another state? - but which the state may need to act on.
    Otherwise the sole purpose is to selectively (and arbitrarily) intimidate prospective voters - just like the old Jim Crow voter suppression tactics.

  • Presskh||

    Sorry, meant to say "The woman was not on the voter registration rolls". Your whole argument seems to imply that anyone should just be able to walk up to any polling place and vote. If true, then what is to prevent me from going from one polling place to another and casting a vote? As for this being a so-called "Jim Crow" voter suppression tactic, it only suppresses the voting of those who are illegally attempting to do so. Whether or not you believe she should have been legally allowed to vote, since she wasn't incarcerated, is another issue.

  • JFree||

    If true, then what is to prevent me from going from one polling place to another and casting a vote?

    That's a legitimate question on an affidavit for a provisional ballot.

    As for this being a so-called "Jim Crow" voter suppression tactic, it only suppresses the voting of those who are illegally attempting to do so.

    Texas already KNOWS who is eligible and who isn't based on the felony stuff. They issue the discharge certificate. There is no reason for that affidavit question other than gotcha. Provo ballots aren't counted at election. They are counted (maybe) up to 2 weeks later.

    Further, sentencing her to 5 years - with her picture in the papers - is intended to intimidate voters of that same complexion from showing up at the polling place altogether. 97% of new voters in minority-majority precincts have a poll watcher present (and challenging affidavits is main duty of watchers) v 14% of new voters in majority-majority precincts. It is that challenge which sets the legal stuff re affidavit in motion. That is the main reason the lines are always longer. Betcha didn't know that. Every black voter does know why the lines are long - the white GOP poll watcher challenging their right to vote.

  • damikesc||

    Texas already KNOWS who is eligible and who isn't based on the felony stuff.

    And that she ISN'T eligible (the whole "not being on the rolls" thing) was advised to her by the state. She said they were wrong. She signed an affidavit that she was fully eligible to vote, even after advised she was not (again, not on the voter rolls).

  • JFree||

    And again - the state is the only one who actually knows with legal certainty whether she has or hasn't fulfilled the terms of the discharge statement (which says her punishment is over) which the state itself issues. The affidavit is not needed. All they have to do is look at their records again. Make sure they didn't screw up some data entry. And if they are indeed correct, then NOT COUNT her provisional ballot.

    She is not trying to vote twice - or impersonate someone else - or something which meets the last phrase of that affidavit for which I know I am not eligible. That requires that she knows something that the doesn't and that she is trying to deceive the state. Ignorance of the terms of her parole does NOT constitute knowledge. It constitutes ignorance.

  • n00bdragon||

    Said affidavit - in being used to send her to prison - is a violation of her 5th amendment right against self-incrimination.
    Haha, what? You have a right to not be forced to incriminate yourself. You don't have a blanket immunity to incriminating yourself. What are you even smoking?

  • damikesc||

    She could've refused to sign the affidavit and not voted. That she did so was her decision.

  • DjDiverDan||

    The registrar didn't just "hand her an affidavit", she provided her the affidavit, TOLD HER TO READ IT, AND ONLY SIGN IT IF IT WAS TRUE." I have ZERO sympathy for anyone too fricking lazy to even read a legal document. She signed a false affidavit. Lock her up. Then maybe others won't take the right to vote, or the responsibility to read and think about legal documents handed to them, so lightly.

  • Jon Irenicus||

    Your attitude here is why some people look at libertarians as sociopaths.

  • FlameCCT||

    This is what happens when Progressives push for last minute registration, no ID, etc. which doesn't give the State time to confirm if one is a citizen and has not had their ability to vote taken away by a court. Not to mention all the Progressive propaganda that foreign nationals, legal or illegal, should be allowed to vote; then create laws that make it illegal for State officials to ask/confirm citizenship let alone legal/illegal status or purge their voter registration files.

  • swampwiz||

    Her vote was *provisional*, which means that the vote were to be counted, it could be properly vetted, at which time it would be determined to be invalid.

  • Kefka||

    "Under Texas law, Gonzalez could have sentenced her from two to 20 years of PROBATION or prison."

    This came nowhere near the low end.

  • ohlookMarketthugs||

    Yet you argue to justify locking her up. Hold those violent tendencies tight, you may lose Siv

  • JFree||

    The range is 2 to 20 years. The judge picked 5 years. On the low end, probably based on the prior record?
    Just a guess.

    BS. Texas regularly (or actually rarely - 4 or so per election year) sentences party activists (candidates, poll workers, precinct chairs, etc) to probation/fine. Those are 90%+ of all 'voter fraud' and are all more akin to real election tampering. Voter fraud cases in Texas

    It is only nobodies who are not involved in politics and who have absolutely nothing personal at stake who get sentenced to imprisonment.

    Which means that the purpose of this is voter intimidation.

  • FlameCCT||

    Voter intimidation by the Progressive Democrats who control Tarrant County (Ft. Worth, TX)?

  • JFree||

    It's the poll watchers who challenge affidavits. GOP sends all its poll watchers to Dem urban precincts. Dems 1/2 to urban (to challenge the GOP watchers) and 1/2 to GOP precincts w more election-day voting than mail-in ballots.

  • ThomasD||

    " that seems like an awfully long time."

    And, given that she has a prior felony, she may actually serve some of it. But I'd be shocked if she spends even a full year in custody.

  • Libertymike||

    Judge Robert "Gonzalez." Perhaps his immigration status should be checked.

  • FlameCCT||

    Check his party affiliation first. Tarrant County (Ft. Worth) like Harris County (Houston), Travis County (Austin), et. al. are run by Progressive Democrats. It wouldn't surprise me if the ones with lenient sentences were ProgDem supporters.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    I think voter fraud is a legitimate issue,if the government has no idea as to who is or is not allowed to vote. This woman is being sent to jail for the government's incompetence.

  • ThomasD||

    Do you want more government???

    Because the system they use was about as least intrusive as possible. It basically boils down to "you can vote, so long as you attest that you are entitled to vote.' IOW, it's a form of honor system. Just one where penalties for false representations attach.

    Much like making false representations on tax returns.

    See a pattern here?

  • Libertymike||

    Tax returns themselves are a specie of lawlessness.

  • ThomasD||

    All the more reason to not do them for other people.

    But still no reason to commit a fraud.

  • Longtobefree||

    How was the government incompetent?
    She got caught, just as the system was designed. She lied under oath, and got the low end of the prescribed penalty.

    The incompetence I see is all on her:
    She, at 46, bowed to pressure from her mother.
    She was not aware that one of the many restrictions on her supervised freedom was not being able to vote.
    She did not read the affidavit.
    She did not avail herself of a lawyer (trolls, note that there are several left wing pro-bono law groups available to her)

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    If I'm reading the story correctly, she did successfully cast a vote in the election. She wasn't eligible but it counted anyway. If an incompetent person can so easily circumvent the system--possibly by accident?--how much faith should I have in voting results?

  • Citizen X - #6||

    More faith than you should have in whoever those votes put into office, anyway.

  • JoeBlow123||

    Boom!

  • Get To Da Chippah||

    She cast a vote on a provisional ballot because she was, quite appropriately, not on the rolls. The poll worker shouldn't be expected to know why she wasn't on the rolls, nor is it the government's fault the woman didn't fully read the affidavit she signed.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    Sorry, but it's their system. If they set it up to take votes from people they can't verify, that's a bad idea. Why is it hunky-dory for the government to be tabulating votes that, for all they know, came out of a cow's backside?

    Hell, I thought voting was pointless before this. This only strengthens that view.

  • Presskh||

    Agree, Get to da Chippah.

  • swampwiz||

    It did not count. It would have only be reviewed to be counted if the election had been close, and at the time, you can bet your sweet bippy that the lawyers would have figured out the validity of every single provisional vote.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    Seriously, given that her earlier crime was helping other people commit tax fraud, she is clearly the sort of person who's willing to commit a crime with understanding and deliberation. And a paperwork related crime, too!

    So I see no reason to assume this was incompetence, rather than her knowingly committing a crime thinking she wouldn't be caught.

  • Kefka||

    "and got the low end of the prescribed penalty."

    Again she did not get the low end, plus who cares if 5 years in Jail was actually the low end how is that morally justifiable or proportional to the situation?

  • damikesc||

    Yes. Lying under oath does tend to have repurcussions.

  • swampwiz||

    THIS!

  • Otis B. Driftwood||

    That's pretty fucked up.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Sorry, but it's impossible to determine whether she deserves to go to prison for five years for an act that harmed no one until I know whether she voted for Hillary.

  • Libertymike||

    Hugh, you are a funny guy.

    Actually, you could apply your thought to the Blotard, Gary J., and Ms. Stein.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Don't be stupid. We all know an illegal vote for Dr. Stein comes with a stay at a state psychiatric facility. No penalty for a Johnson vote.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    A Johnson vote is crime and punishment in one.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    So, the real question to me is this: What happens to those who let her vote? Because this seems like this is on the government much more than it is on her.

    I certainly know that in other cases, like when I worked at a store if we sold alcohol to someone who wasn't allowed it it was the store that got fucked. It seems this is the Government's fuck up.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Frankly, we should all be in jail right now for what Ms. Mason was told she could do.

  • cereal_shake||

    I disagree, as others have said, this was a very trust based system, and what you're asking for gets us a much more obtrusive system with no guarantee of greater functionality.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    And if she truly didn't know, then no trust was breached. If this is not a common problem, and they found one person accidentally doing it, then letting them go seems reasonable, and they should beef their system somewhat. If this is a widespread problem, then doing nothing except hitting random rare people you catch on technicalities, then they are also ignoring the problems in their system and instead just placing blame rather than doing anything.

  • cereal_shake||

    "And if she truly didn't know, then no trust was breached"

    Again, disagreed. Not knowing isn't good enough, she was trusted to know. She said she knew, and didn't, which is still a breach of trust.

    And that wasn't really even my point. If you crack down on the government employees, you get them up your ass.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    They already are up your ass. They're sending her to Prison. That's as up your ass as they can get. Particularly when there is a very, very simple solution here.

  • dave b.||

    Mens rea was still a thing before this place was infested by the Breitbart Junior Cadets

  • damikesc||

    You realize this means we should do away with provisional ballots and, if you're not on the rolls, you cannot vote. Period. No option to dispute it at the time.

    ...mind you, I support this.

  • BYODB||


    Mason's case highlights both the arbitrariness and the cruelty in how states use a person's criminal history as a way of stripping them of their say in a democratic republic.


    I agree on the first point, but stripping people of their right to vote based on certain crimes is eminently sensible. I certainly agree that it should be under a lot of scrutiny at all times, and should be limited to crimes with actual victims which would mean this woman wouldn't have been stripped of that right at all, but pretending that everyone should always be able to vote is pretty dumb.


    Some people do and should waive that right by committing offenses against their fellow citizens. Why should those who break the law and harm people be given a say over what society does?

  • jcw||

    Some people do and should waive that right by committing offenses against their fellow citizens. Why should those who break the law and harm people be given a say over what society does?

    Honestly, I don't think the author of this article necessarily disagrees with this assessment. I mean, who disagrees with the idea that murderers shouldn't vote? What about the inequity of the sentencing by the judge, any comment?

  • Hugh Akston||

    I mean, who disagrees with the idea that murderers shouldn't vote?

    I do

  • jcw||

    It takes all kinds.

  • BYODB||

    How do you arrive at the conclusion that someone who has willfully violated one of the most basic laws of civilization should have some say over how their neighbors live, love, and work one might ask but since you're Hugh I imagine the reason is because you're basically a lump of unthinking emoting flesh.

  • Hugh Akston||

    There is some defensible public safety logic in putting violent criminals in prison where they can't hurt people, but there is no logical connection between being convicted of a violent crime and revoking the voting franchise. Who are criminals harming by casting a vote?

    Even if we granted for a moment that the vote of a single criminal would have any effect on the outcome of an election (which it absolutely wouldn't), they are voting on a ballot composed of candidates and measures that were approved by the electoral process, same as everyone else. It's not like they can vote to legalize all crime or release all prisoners.

    And since you're so concerned about people having their fates decided by others, people in prison are arguably more affected by government policy decisions than anyone else. Why should other people with no concern for their welfare get to decide how much food they get and what privileges and opportunities they have while in prison, while the person who actually has to live under those decisions has no say at all?

    And what about when that criminal gets out of prison and is subject to the laws that resulted from that election? Why should the ex-con be subject to laws and lawmakers that they had no say in empowering?

  • BYODB||

    So your opinion basically boils down to since voting is completely useless allowing felons to vote should be allowed. I suppose that's pretty utilitarian of you, but it's intended to be a punishment that represents their distain for their fellow citizens and as such their fellow citizens don't respect their opinion on issues where voting theoretically counts.

    Why should other people with no concern for their welfare get to decide how much food they get and what privileges and opportunities they have while in prison, while the person who actually has to live under those decisions has no say at all?

    Because the person in question would have explicitly and literally harmed someone else by removing their life or property dumbass. Those individuals should probably thank their lucky stars they live in a nation where the death penalty for such offenses is considered inhumane (which I also agree with, by the way).

    Read below where I make it clear that offenses such as the one this woman in particular committed should not count into such a consideration as there is no victim.

  • Hugh Akston||

    it's intended to be a punishment that represents their distain for their fellow citizens and as such their fellow citizens don't respect their opinion on issues where voting theoretically counts.

    So you're admitting that there is no public safety justification for revoking the voting franchise for criminals, but rather it is an arbitrary punishment done just to inflict pointless suffering. What was that run-on sentence you had earlier about unthinking emoting flesh?

  • FlameCCT||

    Should we also allow them to have their 2A Rights restored upon release?

  • Zeb||

    I'm not sure what to think. I can understand the arguments for stripping certain people of the right to vote. But I don't really see the problem caused by allowing those people to vote. I mean, what is a murderer going to do with his vote that causes any harm? Or any more harm than any other voter, at least.

    I could get behind narrowly drawn restrictions on certain people who commit terrible crimes. But if the choice is between felons voting and felons not being allowed to vote, I choose the former.

  • BYODB||


    I mean, what is a murderer going to do with his vote that causes any harm? Or any more harm than any other voter, at least.

    It's meant to be a punishment that indicates that you have violated the civic trust to such an extent that your right to influence the political process has been removed. While you and I recognize that an individual vote is worthless, it's still an act of civic virtue that should be removed from those who have proven they can't be trusted in society.

    When it really boils down to it, it's a largely symbolic gesture but the right to vote and influence the political process should be removed from people who distain the civic system they live under so much so that they commit heinous crimes against it.

    Not to say that what this woman did necessarily qualifies, of course, but as an overall justification it holds water for me when it's limited to a particular higher-order category of crimes that have a demonstrable victim.

  • shawn_dude||

    What other rights would you strip from murderers who have served their sentences?

  • BYODB||

    What inequality are you talking about? I noted in the above post that it should of course be limited to crimes with a victim, but I also only believe that crimes should exist if there's a victim in the first place so I suppose take that into consideration.

    She's a felon who served nearly three years in federal prison for helping people inflate their tax returns.

    Her crime was basically tax fraud, which is a federal crime, but the only 'victim' is the government which hardly counts. One could perhaps argue that her crime was against everyone who pays taxes, but that's a pretty expansive argument that I personally would not make.

    She says an election worker was helping her and she didn't read the whole affidavit she had to sign declaring that she could legally vote. And she said she wasn't told by anybody that she couldn't legally vote until she had completed her supervised release.

    Why was this never explained to her by her lawyer or anyone else, though, and as a follow up why would anyone fail to read a legal affidavit knowing they're a felon?

    She was going to do something out of plain-jane ignorance to land herself back in jail. If it wasn't voter fraud, it would be one of the many, many other things that felons aren't allowed to do. It appears she took zero interest in determining what her situation was, which does limit my sympathy for her.

  • JFree||

    Your sympathy or lack for her should be irrelevant. Voting is a basic right of a citizen. If the state wants to make that right conditional instead, then it is entirely up to the state to make every single 'conditional restriction' act ITSELF - eg taking her off the voting roll, declaring her conditional vote invalid, not counting her vote, etc - where her role is then solely to appeal that denial of her voting rights.

    It is honestly Jim Crow era crap to deny her that right - and then criminalize her signing an affidavit where the state already has ALL of the information that is needed to make its conditional decision anyway. They know all of the conditions of her post-release felony stuff - better than her if a judge or parole officer has actually decided stuff about that without informing the person via process serving. Change the circumstances only a bit and this sort of crap can easily turn into a Kafka novel.

  • FlameCCT||

    Seriously? All she had to do was register to vote ahead of time like most people and then she would have been informed that she wasn't eligible. I would note that even a change of residence in Texas requires your voter registration to be updated as you may now live in a different district.

  • swampwiz||

    Oh, like this woman had access to a lawyer at the polling station!

  • JuanQPublic||

    I mean, who disagrees with the idea that murderers shouldn't vote?

    That is a perfect example of the reasoning behind arbitrary law, something that has no place in a liberal, free society.

    If one has served their time, they have served their time.

  • BYODB||

    Also, as an addendum, the flaw in her legal defense has been located:

    Mason waived a jury trial and asked District Judge Robert Gonzalez to sentence her.

    WRONG DECISION, McFLY!

  • Calidissident||

    There's still a couple of arguments to be made for it. First off, convicts are subject to and affected by laws (more so than most people), thus there's a case that they should have input into those laws. True, they have committed an offense (assuming they weren't wrongly convicted, which shouldn't be taken for granted) meriting some sort of punishment, but I don't think that necessarily negates that. It's not just about whether someone is or isn't guilty of a crime to me, but what that crime is, and whether the punishment is appropriate. Overpunishment is an injustice that obviously most affects convicts, so I think there's an argument there to not remove their input on those laws.

    Secondly, there's also the concept of "serving your time" and returning to society. Should you be stripped of your right to vote even after being released.

    I'm not necessarily against any restrictions at all, but I think they should be much more limited and narrowly tailored than they are currently, which it seems like you agree with.

  • John||

    The problem is that the blanket prohibition was that it was created at a time when only really serious crimes were felonies. The blanket prohibition doesn't make any sense anymore because too many crimes are felonies.

  • BYODB||

    I agree. Law has changed significantly from when crimes were victim based. Now crimes are, ludicrously, extended even to thought crimes so it's a bit silly in my view to limit someone's ability to vote over a crime that doesn't have any actual demonstrable victim in the first place. There may be exceptions, but as a general rule this seems rational to me.

  • Kivlor||

    ^^This.

  • Calidissident||

    I think that's a good point John.

  • ThomasD||

    Making tax fraud a misdemeanor would be about as libertarian a moment as I can imagine.

  • JuanQPublic||

    The blanket prohibition doesn't make any sense anymore because too many crimes are felonies.

    Agree 100%.

  • Rev. Arthur Ꮮ. Kirkland||

    Yeah, really serious crimes like having consensual anal sex.

    Carry on, clingers.

  • shawn_dude||

    Hey, why stop at anal? Oral sex is also sodomy and was illegal in most states in our lifetime.

  • Jerryskids||

    stripping people of their right to vote based on certain crimes is eminently sensible

    She was helping people evade taxes. She shouldn't be in jail, she should be in the legislature.

  • ThomasD||

    "...she didn't read the whole affidavit she had to sign declaring that she could legally vote."

    Respecting the right of contract also means accepting the consequences when someone fucks it up.

  • ThomasD||

    Not reading something you are signing your name to is the textbook definition of it's your own damn fault.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    We can still bitch about disproportionate consequences for failing the terms of a contract with the state (who also happens to be the arbiter of said contract).

  • ThomasD||

    If this was her first rodeo I'd agree.

  • JFree||

    Of course - because what the world needs is a billion more lawyers

  • Calidissident||

    Even so, that's not a justification for an absurd sentence like this. If some website sneaks a sentence into their TOS where you consent to human sacrifice, should you be compelled to go through with it if you didn't read through the whole thing?

  • ThomasD||

    The sentence was well witrhin guidelines. The offense was of an entirely similar nature to her prior offense (making false representations on legal documents.) And I seriously doubt she will serve even a third of that sentence behind bars.

    Your example is grossly inapt. A more apt one would be enhlisting in the military and then claiming surprise that you might be expect to kill other human beings.

  • FlameCCT||

    Good example although you might be surprised how many actually claim to be surprised after entry, some even believe that the military cannot place them in such situations that might require shooting someone.

  • ThomasD||

    The sentence was well witrhin guidelines. The offense was of an entirely similar nature to her prior offense (making false representations on legal documents.) And I seriously doubt she will serve even a third of that sentence behind bars.

    Your example is grossly inapt. A more apt one would be enlisting in the military and then claiming surprise that you might be expect to kill other human beings.

  • shawn_dude||

    Speaking of inapt... your own example falls far short of equivalency. Only an idiot doesn't know the military is about shooting people. It's about shooting people in every state and territory in this country and every other country (except maybe Canada... :-P ) Whereas, felons get their voting privileges back automatically in a number of states, not at all in some, and after petition or other maze of paperwork in other states. Voting privileges aren't uniform across offenses or states or anything else. A more apt military analogy would be finding out after you enlist that the UCMJ replaces portions of the Constitution as it applies to your civil rights while you're on active duty. Most people don't know that unless they're a lawyer or active duty.

  • ThomasD||

    The sentence was well witrhin guidelines. The offense was of an entirely similar nature to her prior offense (making false representations on legal documents.) And I seriously doubt she will serve even a third of that sentence behind bars.

    Your example is grossly inapt. A more apt one would be enhlisting in the military and then claiming surprise that you might be expect to kill other human beings.

  • ThomasD||

    Wow. A three-fer.

    Sorry.

    Bad squirrel!
    Bad!

  • Calidissident||

    I don't give a shit about what the guidelines say, guidelines that allow 5 years for this are specifically what I'm objecting to.

    I don't know how getting 5 years in prison for wrongly voting is comparable to be expected to potentially kill people if you join the military. There's no inherent reason why the former would have such a punishment.

    Should she have done more research into what the terms were of her probabtion? Sure. Should she have checked if she was eligible to vote based on her conviction before going to the polls? Sure. Should she have read the form more closely? Sure. I'm not contesting any of that. I'm saying that 5 years in prison is an absurd punishment. Whether or not she ends up behind bars for all of it. Shit like this (along with all the victimless crimes) is why we have such a huge mass incarceration problem.

  • ThomasD||

    The crime is making a false statement.

    You cannot get to a more libertarian world until this offense is treated with the seriousness it deserves.

    Anything less is pure paternalism.

  • BYODB||


    Anything less is pure paternalism.

    Well, honestly she was black so they need more help than other races to understand legal paperwork. That is what we're saying here, right?

    /sarc

  • Zeb||

    You cannot get to a more libertarian world until this offense is treated with the seriousness it deserves.

    And some people think that 5 years is a lot more seriousness than this deserves. Maybe a fine and little bit more on her supervised release or something.

  • ThomasD||

    Nope.

    Elections/voting is about as serious as it gets in a representative republic.

    I'm less bothered by the tax fraud.

  • Zeb||

    Well, yes, some people do think that.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Elections/voting is about as serious as it gets in a representative republic.

    That's a pretty sick burn on representative republics.

  • Calidissident||

    And what seriousness is that? I'm not saying it shouldn't be a crime, I'm saying 5 years is an absurdly long sentence. That's longer that some people get for major physical or sexual assaults. How is this paternalistic? Saying we need to punish people with years in jail for this to become more libertarian is ridiculous. It isn't helping anyone and it's a waste of taxpayer money.

  • shawn_dude||

    Her contribution to the economy is negative while in prison. How is locking her up for 5 years going to help? It can't "send a message" if people commit this crime without realizing it's a crime up front. There is nothing "libertarian" about this as far as I can see. It's certainly "Conservative," but not libertarian.

    5 years is unnecessarily punitive with no real balance against the offense or potential for deterrence.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    And I seriously doubt she will serve even a third of that sentence behind bars.

    Great. Only a little under 2 years in prison.

  • ThomasD||

    My guess is less than a year - probably nine months, then she'll lose at least a third of her total sentence for 'good behavior.' The rest of the time will be served the same way she was serving her prior offense whlle she committed the second one.

  • shawn_dude||

    Giving people sentences based on what they're likely to serve in our overcrowded jails is pretty terrible.

  • John||

    Her sin is that she isn't connected to a political party. If she was, she could have bused in hundreds of people to vote illegally and nothing would have happened to her. This sentence doesn't mean we should stop worrying about voting fraud any more than someone getting five years for stealing a candy bar means we should stop worrying about theft. The problem is the sentence in relation to the crime, not that it is a crime to vote illegally.

  • jcw||

    I'm still waiting for legitimate evidence that thousands of people voted illegally in 2018 & 2014. I asked this of you the last time you were spouting off these "facts."

  • John||

    http://www.heritage.org/electi.....-other-way

    he Heritage Foundation added another round of cases this week to our ever-growing Election Fraud Database.

    Accounting for these new additions, the database now documents 1,088 proven instances of election fraud, including 949 cases that have resulted in criminal convictions, 48 that have ended in civil penalties, and 75 that have seen defendants enter diversion programs.

    Americans should be alarmed, not only because Heritage has compiled so many examples of fraud—impacting nearly every state and elections for all levels of government—but because this figure is likely just the tip of the iceberg.

    The Heritage database is not a comprehensive tally of election fraud. That figure would almost certainly be substantially larger.

    Most states, after all, lack the robust procedures needed to detect fraud when it occurs. Even when fraud is detected, prosecutors often opt not to pursue cases because their priorities lie elsewhere.

    Put simply, American elections are vulnerable and fraudsters know it. Not content to leave their ideological causes or their own careers up to the unpredictable will of voters, many fraudsters choose to act on this knowledge.

    And every time I post more and you just memory hole it.

  • JuanQPublic||

    The database now documents 1,088 proven instances of election fraud, including 949 cases that have resulted in criminal convictions.

    If 1,088 instances nationwide is what they have, they need to put it in a realistic context, because that's virtually non-existent when compared to the total number of voters.

  • JuanQPublic||

    But hey, "one thousand eighty-eight" sounds like a "big number", so run with it.

  • Social Justice is neither||

    So in your mind if you stop looking for something it stops existing?

    The problem is politicians have gone out of their way to make detecting election fraud hard to impossible then use the fact that you can't detect it as a basis to claim there isn't a problem to begin with.

    If ICE stopped reporting deportations would you actually believe there were none?

  • Paulpemb||

    The 2000 Presidential election was determined by 537 votes. The Democratic Senate majority that allowed Obamacare to pass with a filibuster proof majority was decided by 312 votes in Minnesota. So what is the acceptable level of voter fraud?

    Voter fraud is a crime that is exceptionally difficult to prosecute, so 949 convictions is obviously just the tip of the iceberg. On the other hand, it should be relatively easy to prove whether or not it has occurred. If Joe Smith died in 2002, and a vote has been cast in Joe Smith's name in every election since, then it's pretty obvious that somebody is casting fraudulent votes, even if it is impossible to prove exactly who that was.

    One of our two major political parties is pretty heavily invested in making sure that nobody ever checks whether Joe Smith is voting or not, or making sure that Joe Smith is taken off the voter rolls. I can't help but think they have a reason for that.

  • Cyto||

    Those 312 votes in Minnesota are particularly problematic, as at least the superficial appearance that the election was rigged was extremely strong. And there wasn't much interest in pursuing that thread in the national media. They just kinda went with it, presumably because their guy won.

    I'm not down with the "millions of fraudulent votes" conspiracy theories, but I do understand where it comes from. In my district in the Atlanta burbs they had video of the Democrat candidate for the House's people running a bus from polling location to polling location, offloading the same people to the polls at each stop. The same group also locked the Republican poll observer in a closet at their last stop and held the polls open past their closing time, presumably in order to allow their team to get their votes in. And there were no repercussions.

    When the party in power locally is indicated in these sorts of schemes, it seems that there isn't too much in the way of serious investigation. It is only when there is someone from the opposing party in power in the local jurisdiction that you get a response.

  • shawn_dude||

    Not disagreeing with your general premise here (thought I truly don't see where we get "millions" from hundreds other than through irrational fear), but I wonder how this balances out against anti-vote measures in places like Florida where they removed names from the voter rolls if they are similar to the names of convicted felons? It's probably harder to count people who were legally able to vote but couldn't due to shenanigans like that than people who voted illegally.

    In the case of the 537 votes for the 2000 election, all of those in Florida, it mattered a lot that someone tried to vote but couldn't because a felon shared their name.

  • Shakes||

    "I don't think I'll ever vote again,"

    There it is, the intended result of voter fraud hysteria.

  • Eidde||

    I don't see why she got five years. Certainly not if her initial crime was merely for helping people stiff the IRS.

    Some time in prison, though, seems appropriate - maybe a few months while she thinks about what she did. Personally, I'd cut some time off the sentence because the underlying felony didn't involve hurting another person, just hurting a greedy government agency.

    I think this is what a provisional ballot application looks like in Texas. The following language is included in boldface: "I am a registered voter of this political subdivision and in the precinct in which I'm attempting to vote and have not already voted in this election (either in person or by mail). I am a resident of this political subdivision, have not been finally convicted of a felony or if a felon, I have completed all of my punishment including any term of incarceration, parole, supervision, period of probation, or I have been pardoned." So she ought to have read that part.

    It would, of course, have been better to have a separate check box for each possible cause of disqualification. One check box for actually living at the address you're registered, one check box for not being a felon on probation, etc.

    Having the would-be voter check off and initial each separate statement would be better than putting a bunch of statements together, where they might blur in the mind of a distracted person.

  • Eidde||

    My first impression from this story is that the woman should get a reduction in her sentence.

    But not a pardon - voting fraud destroys even the pretense of this being a government of the people.

    And if her original felony involved robbery, criminal homicide, etc., I'd have been sympathetic to a stiffer sentence - why should someone go to the ballot box and decide questions about my rights when they're still serving a sentence for violating the rights of others?

    And putting a convicted felon back on the voting rolls only after they've completed their sentence - including probation/parole - seems fair - it's not like some states where they have to make a special application to get voting rights back.

  • ThomasD||

    "It would, of course, have been better to have a separate check box for each possible cause of disqualification."

    I'd have to group that under the same category as seat belt laws, and cigarette box warning labels - things that should be viewed as unnecessary intrusions into the freedoms of a responsible populace. But sadly, as we are going to pay one way or another to save people from themselves anyway we might as well try harder.

  • Eidde||

    I'm just suggesting that government (a) be more-user friendly and (b) give more explicit warnings to people who shouldn't be voting, in hopes that will actually scare them off from the ballot box.

  • ThomasD||

    And I agree, I just also think it's damn unfortunate that we can't have a minimum expectation of being able to read and comprehend one whole paragraph in order to vote properly.

  • Eidde||

    Fair enough, but if she was simply confused, then maybe a more specific warning ("Are a felon? Check yes or no. Have you been pardoned? Check yes or no. Are you still on probation/parole? check yes or no)" might have made her nervous enough she'd say, "never mind, I don't want to vote anyway," and the taxpayers would have been spared the expense of her food and lodging.

  • ThomasD||

    " ...taxpayers would have been spared the expense of her..."

    Traumatic brain injury for failure to wear a seatbelt

    Emphysema for decades of cigarette consumption

    That was exactly my point.

    I get utilitarian arguments, I just do not like them, nor think them remotely libertarian.

  • mpercy||

    It's bold print in a warning box in which the word felon/felony appears at least 3 times.

    TO BE COMPLETED BY VOTER: I am a registered voter of this political subdivision and in the precinct in which I'm attempting to vote and have not already voted in this election (either in person or by mail). I am a resident of this political subdivision, have not been finally convicted of a felony or if a felon, I have completed all of my punishment including any term of incarceration, parole, supervision, period of probation, or I have been pardoned. I have not been determined by a final judgment of a court exercising probate jurisdiction to be totally mentally incapacitated or partially mentally incapacitated without the right to vote. I understand that giving false information under oath is a misdemeanor, and I understand that it is a felony of the 2nd degree to vote in an election for which I know I am not eligible.

  • Eidde||

    Which is why I said she should be punished as a criminal, I was bitching about the 5-year sentence, not the conviction.

    And I suspect that her prior felony involving the IRS was considered as aggravating, while I'd consider it mitigating, in contrast to a felon who actually robbed or raped someone or seriously injured them.

  • Zeb||

    I think it's not a bad idea. A lot of people are pretty fucking stupid and actually can't comprehend dense text. Maybe we'd be better off if such people didn't vote, but they clearly have the legal right to do so.

  • ThomasD||

    Do we have a right to make those sorts of people wear a hockey helmet every waking hour of their existence?

    Or maybe just when they leave home?

  • Zeb||

    Well, it's a good question how easy you should make it for people to vote. You could certainly make it more difficult and require more intelligence than it does now. You could also make it easier. I think that at least making it easier for people to avoid breaking the law is a good idea. I don't imagine anyone believes that this woman understanding that she couldn't vote legally and then not voting would not have been the best outcome here.

  • ThomasD||

    'Making it easier to avoid breaking the law' is - well intentioned as it may be - putting the cart before the horse. The real issue is to not make it unnecessarily hard.

    The first way we do that is: Only have elections when they are absolutely necessary.

    After that it would be things like having elections decided by only dose directly affected. But that would mean things like non-city residents don't get to vote in city elections. And that's where these sorts of problems begin - as soon as we add one sort of disqualification others will tend to follow (for better or for worse.)

    Felon disqualification, particularly of the temporary sort does not seem remotely unreasonable to me.

  • Ken Hagler||

    "I don't see why she got five years. Certainly not if her initial crime was merely for helping people stiff the IRS."

    She helped peasants defy their lords and masters. She's lucky she only got five years.

  • JFree||

    So she ought to have read that part.

    No. The entire last sentence beyond 'I am a resident of this political subdivision' is an illegitimate part of that affidavit. The state has all that info and is the ONLY entity that necessarily has that info. Asking the voter to confirm what the state has in its own database is pure gotcha.

  • JFree||

    And once you eliminate all that felon conditions stuff, it also becomes obvious that separate checkboxes is much easier to understand and process and shorter as well

  • ||

    I'm a bit surprised that no one is questioning the legitimacy of revoking someone's voting rights due to a criminal conviction. Certainly doesn't seem particularly democratic.

  • ThomasD||

    Please explain this "voting right." It sound a lot like the "right to a dinner party."

  • ||

    Amendments 14, 15, and 19

    And yes, I know that the 14th explicitly preserves the Government's ability to revoke voting rights from criminals. That simply means it's legal. Not that it's morally legitimate. Is it a form of punishment? "You can't participate in society because you violated our laws?" Doesn't seem like much of a punishment.

    I guess you can make the case that a law violator isn't respectful enough of society's institutions to be allowed to participate in its operation. But that seems like a fairly broad brush. Particularly given the inconsequential nature of individual votes.

  • ThomasD||

    Bravo, now you see why nobody is particularly concerned that these provisions of our republic do not 'seem particularly democratic.'

    Because the right to vote really is a lot like the right to attend dinner parties.

  • ||

    So apparently you answer is "Because they can".

    Such a well developed moral code you have.

  • ThomasD||

    Moral? Yes.

    Moralistic? Not as much as some.

  • mpercy||

    One could argue similarly about stripping 2nd amendment rights due to a criminal conviction.

  • shawn_dude||

    Especially in an arena where revoking their 2A rights would lead to some very heated words...

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    Don't want to go to jail like a thug, don't vote like a thug.

  • Half-Virtue, Half-Vice||

    Undignified, savage, cruelty; voting without the proper papers!? Should have been ten years!

  • Douchebag McEvil||

    I don't believe her bullshit story and neither did the judge.

  • Weigel's Cock Ring||

    Not very surprising that the professional liars of Reason feel bad for her. Game recognize game.

  • ThomasD||

    I believe her story.

    At least to the extent that I also believe she doesn't really accept that much of anythign that has happened to her in her life has been her own fault.

  • Zeb||

    What's unbelievable about it? There is a lot of social pressure to vote. A lot of people aren't really interested in politics and voting. Do you really think she had a plan to vote, knowing that it was illegal to do so? To what end?

  • Douchebag McEvil||

    To elect Hillary you stupid motherfucker. She got hit on a paperwork crime, but now she doesn't take affidavits seriously? Fuck that.

  • Zeb||

    You know who she voted for? And she really believed that her one vote in Texas, where everyone knew Hillary would not win, was worth the risk of prison?

  • ThomasD||

    My guess about that would be:

    A. She didn't think this was serious, and

    B. She didn't think she would get caught

    Pretty much like last time.

  • Jgalt1975||

    So your theory is that her plan was to commit a felony to cast a vote that had literally no chance of making a difference in the outcome of the election?

  • Brett Bellmore||

    I've stood in the cold rain in excess of an hour to legally cast a vote that had literally no chance of making a difference. So, I'd find that theory plausible.

  • Brian||

    I just imagine she's Russian, and the punishment isn't nearly harsh enough.

  • shawn_dude||

    Well duh.

    Foreign nationals cannot vote. So a Russian citizen would be a huge deal. (Or a Mexican citizen.)

    But she's a born American and not a Russian and so she actually has the legitimate right to vote.

  • Frito Chews||

    Let's work really hard to fine-tune the rules for participating in (ht:HLM) advance auction sales of stolen goods.

  • ||

    She was not on the voting rolls. She got a provisional ballot. Presumably they checked the provisional ballot and recognized she was not registered. Presumably they did not count her vote.

    It sounds like the system worked perfectly.

    ...until several someones decided that criminal law meant to severely punish those who cynically or for profit abuse voting should apply in this one-off case fully explainable as a misunderstanding.

    The miscarriage of justice here cannot be overstated.

  • ThomasD||

    So If I break into a bank, but the safe is already empty then I shouldn't go to prison?

  • ||

    If you go to the bank on Saturday when the bank is closed, but the door happens to be open and you go inside, you should not go to prison.

  • ThomasD||

    Yes, beacuse we do not send people to prison for tresspass.

    Nor do we often even prosecute tresspass when it is technical or trivial.

  • ||

    I don't prosecute trespass when it is mistaken. I don't know what you do.

  • ThomasD||

    Mistaken tresspass has never been my concern here.

    Making false representations on an affadivit is the isse here.

  • ||

    Mistaken false representations. That caused absolutely zero harm. That the system is designed to tolerate without causing any harm -- like locking the safe door even if the bank door is unlocked.

    Why do you celebrate viciousness in a state actor?

  • ThomasD||

    "absolutely zero harm"

    Casting a ballot in an election you are not entitled to particpate in is not 'zero harm.'

    Have you stopped kicking your dog?

  • ||

    It is zero harm if the vote is not counted.

    Let's say you go to last year's precinct voting location, learn you're not on the voting roll, figure it's the county's mistake, ask for a provisional ballot, sign the affidavit, and vote.

    You learn when the police arrive to arrest you that the precinct voting location changed.

    Is a conviction with five years in prison too little, too much, or just right?

  • ThomasD||

    "It is zero harm if the vote is not counted."

    Really? so it's only harm if she succeeds?

    Empty bank vaults.

    As to your hypothetical you'd need to note what the affidavit, and the ballot each specifically say. Otherwise it's hard to give any sort of answer. If the ballor doesn't list the people I expect to see listed then I'm going catch the problem myself.

    But I'd probably notice the honking big PRECINCT NUMBER on the door of the school gym before any of that. Barring that the nice little old lady at the desk is going to see my registration card AND my photo ID so she'll figure it out too.

  • ||

    Okay, here's the hypothetical...

    You're on your way home from work. You forgot your sample ballot. You don't know your four digit precinct number. (I think mine starts with a 5 and has a 1 or two in it, but so do a lot of precinct numbers.) You pop into the last place you voted and find you're not on the roll. You don't have your voter registration card. Your photo ID is not terribly helpful to the nice little old lady since your name isn't in front of her. You get a provisional ballot and sign the affidavit that, under penalty of law, you are registered to vote and authorized to vote on the ballot you receive. The names aren't entirely familiar, but the names on the sample ballot weren't entirely familiar since this is just a local election for a couple local offices. You vote.

    The law is such that voting on the wrong ballot is as bad as voting when not allowed to vote and is a felony that carries a penalty of 2 to 20 years.

    Is 2 years too little? Is 20 years too little?

    After all, you should know the law and how it applies to you. And you signed the affidavit.

  • ThomasD||

    You really don't vote much do you?

    Because your hypotheticals suck.

    Especially since yours do not start with "you have previously been convicted of making false representations on offical documents..."

    Dude, I voted in the last local election. If I go to the same location next time (in June IIRC) and my name isn't in the book I'm going to know there is a problem. A problem I'd rather see resolved. But I'm also not versed in how provisional ballots even work here, or if it would even be a crime for me to complete one at the wrong precinct, it might be nothing worse than an invalid ballot that does not get counted.

    Frankly I do not know, and do not care. I care even less if you insist on making up hypothetical 'laws' for your hypothetical arguments.

    Stop pulling, the goalposts. They've already tipped over.

  • ||

    I vote in every election. My precinct location changes often. I always take my sample ballot with me, but I recognize that not everyone does. I have not needed a provisional ballot that I recall, but I have seen them needed and used often enough.

    A problem I'd rather see resolved.

    You don't get to resolve it when you vote. That's why you get a provisional ballot.

    But I'm also not versed in how provisional ballots even work here, or if it would even be a crime for me to complete one at the wrong precinct, it might be nothing worse than an invalid ballot that does not get counted.

    Do you think your ignorance on these fine points would be an excuse if you unintentionally break the law?

  • ||

    But I'm also not versed in how provisional ballots even work here, or if it would even be a crime for me to complete one at the wrong precinct, it might be nothing worse than an invalid ballot that does not get counted.

    Fortunately, a commenter below gives us the text of the affidavit she signed.

    I am a registered voter of this political subdivision and in the precinct in which I'm attempting to vote... I understand that giving false information under oath is a misdemeanor, and I understand that it is a felony of the 2nd degree to vote in an election for which I know I am not eligible.

    So it appears that our hypothetical voter may get by with only a misdemeanor, depending on whether "vote in an election" includes "vote in the wrong precinct".

    Lucky hypothetical voter. She may get only 5 months in the local jail rather than 5 years in the state prison.

    But, of course, she should be fully versed in all the election law that may apply before she signs this affidavit handed her at a polling place on election day on a provisional ballot that won't be counted if she is not eligible to use it. Nothing less than civilization hangs in the balance.

  • Zeb||

    I think breaking into a bank is reasonably assumed to have malicious intent. Skimming a document you are supposed to sign before you vote, when you aren't really interested in voting, not so much.

  • ThomasD||

    I can see how you are willing to let people slide for failing to accurately make attestations.

    I, who accepts that the right to contract demands full respect for what is being signed, think otherwise.

    "I signed it, but I didn't mean it" is not the path to libertopia. It's not even the rule of law. It will only lead to the rule of men.

  • ||

    The right to contract and an obligation under penalty of felony punishment to have complete and full understanding of things that one signs that aren't contracts are not even remotely related.

  • ThomasD||

    She was under absolutely no obligation to sign that affidavit.

    They just wouldn't have accepted her ballot.

    Voting is a choice.

  • ||

    The obligation is not to sign. The obligation is to understand it and the consequences of failing to understand it.

  • ThomasD||

    If she didn't understand it, she shouldn't have signed it.

    Anyone who doesn't understand that concept really cannot be considered an adult. We know she had already been found criminally liable for making false representations. previouslt So this was not a new concept to her.

    Do you think she was confused, or just indifferent?

  • ||

    I take it then that you consider voting in the wrong precinct location worth at least five years.

  • ThomasD||

    If you are a felon, and the law says you cannot vote until you finish your term, and you haven't finished your term, then there is no right precinct.

    But, by all means, keep moving those goalposts to favorable ground. I'm sure you'll find some eventually.

  • ||

    If the law says you cannot vote in the wrong precinct because in the past there were far too many people voting in neighboring tight precincts rather than their actual safe precincts, then doing so by mistake should be prosecuted and punished to the full extent of the law.

    This is not goalpost moving. It's trying to figure out just how much arbitrary power over people you think the state should have.

  • Mark22||

    This is not goalpost moving. It's trying to figure out just how much arbitrary power over people you think the state should have.

    No, you are arguing for arbitrary enforcement of existing laws and for the state to treat people like little children. Free socieiteis can't function that way. The woman is a legally competent adult. She signed a legally binding affidavit. She made a conscious and deliberate choice and should accept the legal consequences of her choices.

    As for voting laws themselves, they ought to be changed, foremost by having strict voter ID requirements, with the ID indicating eligibility to vote. Then the question of intent-to-defraud becomes quite obvious.

  • Zeb||

    I don't think a fine would have been inappropriate. I don't know if you consider that "letting it slide".

    I think prison should be for people who pose a danger to others. Other kinds of punishment are more appropriate for other kinds of crimes.

  • ThomasD||

    A fine could be reasonable. So long as it was sufficiently punitive to discourage others from playing similar games.

  • Mark22||

    I don't think a fine would have been inappropriate. I don't know if you consider that "letting it slide".

    In order to discourage behavior, the risk needs to be bigger than the benefit. Given that voter fraud is really hard to detect given current voting procedures, in order to make the risk of voter fraud sufficiently large, the penalty needs to be harsh.

    If you want less harsh penalties for voter fraud, make it easier to detect.

  • mpercy||

    I'll try this excuse next time i fill out a Form 4473.

  • Devastator||

    The retribution factor in Texas "justice" is off the charts. They could have fined her to teach her a lesson and been done with it, instead the state is out another $250,000 to their prison industry overlords to imprison a harmless middle aged lady.

  • Mark22||

    The retribution factor in Texas "justice" is off the charts.

    This isn't about retribution, it's about deterrence. A small fine for a hard-to-detect crime is not a deterrent. If a crime is hard to detect and you want to discourage it, the penalties for when it is detected need to be harsh. Hopefully, ex-felons and illegals will look at this case and realize that they risk years of imprisonment for this kind of behavior and be extra-careful before they choose to vote.

  • shawn_dude||

    Lady goes to voting booth with mother. Signs a bunch of legalese for a provisional ballot without understanding that she's barred from voting after serving her time in prison. She gets busted because people are really looking hard for the "millions" of illegal voters and, boom, they found one. She's surprised and she's going back to prison for 5 years.

    Let's assume another lady is released from prison this Summer and finds herself at the voting booth with her mother this November. Exactly how is she going to be deterred? She doesn't know about this other lady. She also doesn't read the legalese on the provisional ballot. Boom. They're up 2 voters in their hunt for "millions."

    In this case, there is no deterrence because there is no pre-meditation.

  • shawn_dude||

    The prison industry takes the $250K and provides kickbacks to the politicians in the form of "donations."

  • Brett Bellmore||

    "Presumably they checked the provisional ballot and recognized she was not registered. Presumably they did not count her vote."

    I really would not presume that. A lot depends on how diligent the local elections workers are. Elections administrators are often a bit lax about enforcing provisions of the law they don't like.

  • Ken Hagler||

    Mason's case highlights both the arbitrariness and the cruelty in how states use the impossibility of knowing the law as a way of stripping them of their say in a democratic republic.

    Fixed that for you.

  • ThomasD||

    Are you saying it was impossible for her to read the statement she signed?

  • Cyto||

    In addition to the raft of legalese, it also includes having the knowledge that "completed your term" doesn't mean "finished my prison sentence and was released", which might be a reasonable interpretation for a non-lawyer.

    With a handy "you will actually be sentenced to 5 years in prison" example in front of you it might be easier to figure out that the default position should be to walk away without voting, but absent that example one might be under the misconception that the correct answer is to simply fill out the provisional ballot and let it get sorted later.

    This is how provisional ballots have been sold in the media for quite some time. If there is any confusion about a voter's status, simply fill out a provisional ballot. Every news story on the topic covers it exactly that way. I can't recall ever seeing a story that focuses on "if you don't actually turn out to be a legally registered voter, you go to jail for 5 years". Quite the opposite.

  • Mark22||

    In addition to the raft of legalese, it also includes having the knowledge that "completed your term" doesn't mean "finished my prison sentence and was released", which might be a reasonable interpretation for a non-lawyer.

    That's why it said right on the affidavit: "including supervision or parole of any kind."

    And a nation of laws cannot function if "I don't understand legalese so I'm not bound by it" because a valid excuse, because that makes the law completely arbitrary.

  • shawn_dude||

    From a personal responsibility perspective, walking away without voting is a good idea. But we shouldn't be happy with a system that discourages voting.

  • Mark22||

    Mason's case highlights both the arbitrariness and the cruelty in how states use the impossibility of knowing the law as a way of stripping them of their say in a democratic republic.

    She signed an affidavit at the poll place where she explicitly affirmed that had fully completed her sentence, including supervision or parole of any kind.

    The legally sensible thing to do for people who are incapable of entering binding contracts is to declare them legally incompetent and appoint a legal guardian for them.

  • chemjeff||

    In a more libertarian world, contracts would carry more importance and be more prevalent than they are now, and the defense of "but I didn't know what I was signing!" would never carry water.

  • Eidde||

    I wouldn't call it a defense, but maybe a factor in mitigation if the form was confusing. Along with the fact that her initial "victim" was the IRS.

  • mpercy||

    The warning is in bold print, in a large black box meant to draw your attention to its importance. It has all of 4 sentences...

    TO BE COMPLETED BY VOTER: I am a registered voter of this political subdivision and in the precinct in which I'm attempting to vote and have not already voted in this election (either in person or by mail). I am a
    resident of this political subdivision, have not been finally convicted of a felony or if a felon, I have completed all of my punishment including any term of incarceration, parole, supervision, period of probation, or I
    have been pardoned. I have not been determined by a final judgment of a court exercising probate jurisdiction to be totally mentally incapacitated or partially mentally incapacitated without the right to vote. I
    understand that giving false information under oath is a misdemeanor, and I understand that it is a felony of the 2nd degree to vote in an election for which I know I am not eligible.

  • mpercy||

    Warning text is about the same as what is on Form 4473...

    I certify that my answers in Section A are true, correct, and complete. I have read and understand the Notices, Instructions, and Definitions on ATF Form 4473. I understand that answering "yes" to question 11.a. if l am not the actual transferee/buyer is a crime punishable as a felony under Federal law, and may also violate State and/or local law. I understand that a person who answers "yes" to any of the questions 11.b. through 11.i
    and/or 12.b. through 12.c. is prohibited from purchasing or receiving a firearm. I understand that a person who answers "yes" to question 12.d.1. is prohibited from receiving or possessing a firearm, unless the person answers "yes" to question 12.d.2. and provides the documentation required in 18.c. I also understand that making any false oral or written statement, or exhibiting any false or misrepresented identification with respect to this transaction, is a crime punishable as a felony under Federal law, and may also violate State and/or local law. I further understand that the repetitive purchase of firearms for the purpose of resale for livelihood and profit without a Federal firearms license is a violation of Federal law.

  • mpercy||

    And Form 4473 has a disclaimer on top too...

    WARNING: You may not receive a firearm if prohibited by Federal or Stale law. The information you provide will be used to determine whether you are prohibited from receiving a firearm. Certain violations of the Gun Control Act, 18 U.S.C. 921 et.seq., are punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment and/or up to a $250,000 fine.

  • Eidde||

    Sounds like Form 4473 goes out of its way to ask about felonies and the like.

  • chemjeff||

    Even if the contract language was confusing, an informed party to a contract would attempt to resolve the confusion before signing.

    And the crime of defrauding the IRS is different than the crime of illegally voting. Doing one doesn't justify the other.

  • Eidde||

    Just to repeat, I was bitching about the 5-year sentence, not the conviction.

  • mpercy||

    If she'd failed to fully read Form 4473 and answered incorrectly on any of the disqualifying questions, she'd have committed a similar felony, and pretty much anyone on the left would be praising the fact that she could be going to prison. It wouldn't matter if it was a simple mistake or her failure to know what she was doing.

    Not that the DOJ seems to be prosecuting that much over the last several years.

  • Eidde||

    "pretty much anyone on the left would be"

    Let's hear from the resident leftists...have they showed up yet?

  • Devastator||

    This is so ridiculous. Another $50k a year for a noncrime. No wonder Texas doesn't have any money for infrastructure, they're too busy rounding up funds for their prison-industrial complex pay offs.

  • flyfishnevada||

    Hey, she did the crime so...

    But the political parties engage in all kinds of election fuckery and nothing happens except in extreme cases. What about gerrymandering? Dead people voting? Busing anyone and everyone to the polls regardless of their citizenship status? In that context, this woman's crime is insignificant and her sentence is ridiculous.

  • buybuydandavis||

    "Texas Woman Gets 5 Years in Prison for the Crime of Not Realizing She Couldn't Vote"

    #FakeNews
    She got prison for illegally voting.

  • AD-RtR/OS!||

    IGNORANCE OF THE LAW IS NO EXCUSE!

  • chemjeff||

    Ultimately, the burden is on her shoulders to be responsible for what she did.

  • Eidde||

    Since pretty much any felony would involve criminal intent, that doesn't answer the question of the appropriate sentence - which I think should be higher or lower depending on whether she raped, stabbed, or robbed an actual human being.

  • Emotional Opposition Animal||

    OMG chemjeff said something reasonable.

  • Rev. Arthur Ꮮ. Kirkland||

    So, the position of Mr. Shackford is that, simultaneously, confusion over who is eligible to vote is common enough that ignorance is a plausible excuse for casting votes while ineligible, and that it's a mark of obsession to think that ineligible people casting votes could be common enough to affect election results.

    And they call the place he writes for "Reason". That's as in "Excuse", right?

  • ravenshrike||

    So she went to jail for what effectively was a crime of helping others falsify paperwork, and we're supposed to be sympathetic when she commits another crime of what is effectively falsifying paperwork, in this case the affidavit. Really? I mean, if I were her after I got out of jail I would be reading any paperwork in triplicate and making damn sure I understood it because generally the second time you get caught for a similar crime there is a lot less leniency.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    Right. Given the nature of her first crime, I wouldn't be inclined to assume the second, being of the same nature, was an accident. She seems to just be the sort of person who thinks they can get away with falsified paperwork.

  • shawn_dude||

    How did she "falsify paperwork" by signing an affidavit? Her prior offense was for "knowingly" doing these things. There's no evidence that she didn't reasonably think she was eligible to vote. She had completed her sentence and was released from prison, right? She's a former-felon. Why shouldn't she be able to vote?

    The answer is that the definition of "completed her sentence" in Texas law is a lot more nuanced and complicated such that, while it might seem up front that she could vote, she technically hadn't "completed her sentence" and so could not legally vote.

    Her biggest mistake (post-release) was not getting a lawyer to defend her in a trial. She'd have gotten a lot less time, if not zero time.

  • swampwiz||

    Manslaughter sentences are on the order of 7 years. This is beyond ridiculous. The voter registrar should be the one to assume the liability of misallowing someone to vote (i.e., a provisional vote can be verified after the fact). However, this does show the benefit of voter ID (although that ID should be COMPLETELY FREE as per the Constitution); as long as someone is not using a fake ID, there should be no reason to charge anyone with voter fraud.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    I sympathize, up to a point.

    I believe, from things that I have read, that fraudulent voting is somewhere between widespread and systemic, that it is actively encouraged by and benefits one Party, and that that Party hysterically opposes any check on it. If we were routinely allowed to investigate questionable votes, or take measures against them (like clearing the rolls, or asking for photo ID) I would say "Catch them, ask how they voted as a condition of lenient sentencing, adjust the vote tally accordingly, and then slap them lightly on each wrist.". But the Party of Self-Righteous Hysteria prevents that, in large part (I believe) because they know goddamned well how few elections thy would win without a thumb on the scales. So when we actually catch a practitioner of vote fraud we need to hit them pretty hard, in the hopes of making the cost of voting fraudulently look too high.

    The Democrat Party has drifted into being more of a Criminal Enterprise than the system can really afford to tolerate. All political Parties resemble organized crime, to a degree, but the nomination of Shrillary is pushing things too far. The woman is a criminal skank.

  • Deplorable Victor||

    Whatever. looks like a dem to me.

  • ohlookMarketthugs||

    Wow Reason a twofer! The violent racists, and the violent contract fetishests.

  • Liberty Lover||

    Ignorance of the law is not a defense.

  • ||

    What, was State Lover taken?

  • Emotional Opposition Animal||

    This isn't an obscure law. Indeed the necessary information was right there on the affidavit she signed to cast the provisional ballot.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    In this case it's probably not a defense simply because she's probably lying about the ignorance.

  • Emotional Opposition Animal||

    That's why ignorance of the law isn't allowed as a defense, because there is no way to disprove it.

    Of course, this becomes a bad joke when we have hundreds of thousands of overlapping laws and regulations that could fill a library. But this wasn't an obscure law.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    Originally, the reason ignorance of the law was no defense, was because it was thought that the law merely codified what your conscience should already be telling you. You already knew that you shouldn't steal, rape, and murder, you didn't need to know there was a law against it, too. Something of a joke today, with so many things that don't offend the conscience illegal.

    But the point here is just that there's no good reason to suppose she was ignorant of the law: She had to sign a piece of paper reminding her of it!

  • Mark22||

    "Not Realizing She Couldn't Vote" doesn't describe her crime. She was required to sign an affidavit that stated explicitly that she had "fully completed her sentence, including supervision or parole of any kind". She didn't just vote illegally, she fraudulently misrepresented herself on a signed affidavit to an election official.

  • Mark22||

    This sort of disproportionate response is deliberately designed to hurt people like Mason for easily understandable and explainable mistakes to scare some voters. It apparently is working.

    The response wouldn't be disproportionate if illegal voting was easy to detect. But because progressives keep pushing for letting people vote with inadequate documentation, it's hard to detect illegal voting. The logical consequence is that when we detect it, it needs to be punished harshly.

  • ohlookMarketthugs||

    I wonder why this violent market thug feels this way? Who enabled his violence? Why does he wish so much hatred on this person?

  • Emotional Opposition Animal||

    She says she didn't even want to vote, but her mother pressured her into it.

    Great, let's prosecute the mother for inducement and conspiracy.

  • damikesc||

    She committed a crime. Lied in an affidavit. Yeah, let's just go easy on her.

    But, remember, voter fraud doesn't exist. Right?

  • TxJack 112||

    Yes she is an American citizen, but she is also a felon. In Texas, felon cannot vote. How can she say she did not even want to vote and yet did it anyway? Sorry her story does not ring true. As Democrats love to say, we are a nation of laws and when you break the law, you accept if you are caught, you will be punished. She was caught and is now being punished. Sorry, but I have no sympathy especially when she is a felon because she was helping people steal money from me and other taxpayers. Once a liar and a cheat, always a liar and a cheat. This story just proves it to be true.

  • Amir Najam Sethit||

    How can she did it?

  • pemaintoto||

    Ini bukan tentang retribusi, ini tentang pencegahan. Denda kecil untuk kejahatan yang sulit dideteksi bukanlah pencegah. Jika kejahatan sulit dideteksi dan Anda ingin mencegahnya, hukuman untuk saat terdeteksi harus keras. Mudah-mudahan, mantan napi dan ilegal akan melihat kasus ini dan menyadari bahwa mereka berisiko bertahun-tahun penjara untuk perilaku semacam ini dan ekstra hati-hati sebelum mereka memilih untuk memilih

  • prediksifajar||

    prediksi 99%

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