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Texas woman gets 5 years in prison for voting illegally

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A Texas woman was sentenced to five years behind bars this week for voting illegally in the 2016 election while on supervised release from federal prison.

Crystal Mason, 43, testified in court that she did not know that she was ineligible to vote due to her 2011 fraud conviction before casting a provisional ballot in the presidential election. In Texas, knowingly voting illegally is a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

 Crystal Mason was sentenced to a five year prison sentence this week, after she tried to vote while on supervised release from federal prison, in Tarrant County, Texas. Tarrant County Jail

“A second degree felony for voting illegally? That’s outrageous,” J. Warren St. John, her defense attorney, told NBC News on Friday. “The punishment does not fit this crime.”

Texas’ ballot asks voters to certify that they have completed their sentences — including supervision — if they have previously been convicted of a felony. Mason testified in court that she did not read the fine print because an election worker was helping her with the provisional ballot.

“She voted in good faith,” St. John said, noting that she accurately filled out her own information and wasn’t trying to obscure her identity. “She didn’t intentionally vote illegally and that’s the whole issue.”

Mason had pleaded guilty in 2011 to inflating tax returns while working as a tax preparer and was sentenced to 60 months in federal prison, according to her attorney. She had served roughly three years before being released in 2016.

St. John said that Mason was never told in court, prison, or her halfway house that she couldn’t vote until the entirety of her sentence was complete. Her probation officer also testified in court that he had not told her she couldn’t vote.

Mason is appealing the judge’s ruling, and out on bond pending that appeal. Because the crime is also a violation of her supervised release, she could still be arrested by federal authorities and sentenced to additional federal jail time for violating the terms of her release. St. John said federal court had not yet issued a warrant over the violation, however.

Mason is not the first to receive a severe sentence for voting illegally. A Texas resident and Mexican citizen with a green card, Rosa Maria Ortega, was sentenced to eight years in prison for casting an illegal ballot. Ortega had even served as a poll worker, and she, too, reportedly said she did not know she couldn’t vote.

Still, not everyone gets hard time. A North Carolina prosecutor declined to bring charges against a woman who said she cast an illegal vote for Donald Trump in order to fulfill her mother’s dying wish. “She made a mistake out of sheer ignorance without any intent to defraud or commit a crime,” the prosecutor said, according to a local report.

An estimated 6.1 million Americans are disenfranchised by a felony conviction, something many states are rethinking as those numbers continue to rise alongside skyrocketing incarceration rates.

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Corbyn launches all-out assault on Starmer in call for radical action on eve of conference

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JEREMY CORBYN launched an embittered assault on Sir Keir Starmer on the eve of Labour’s annual conference, attacking his successor for “propping up a broken system”.

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Biden will allow Jan. 6 investigators access to Trump records, White House says

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President Joe Biden will not shield Donald Trump’s records from the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol by invoking executive privilege, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday.

Asked about Trump’s assertion that he would fight subpoenas from the Jan. 6 Select Committee by invoking the presidential power, Psaki said that decision ultimately lies with Biden.

“The president has already concluded that it would not be appropriate to assert executive privilege” in this case, Psaki said.

“We take this matter incredibly seriously,” she added.

While sitting presidents have traditionally used the power to shield certain information and records from the public at the request of their predecessors, Psaki said what happened during the Capitol riot deserves transparency.

“We have been working closely with the congressional committee and others as they get to the bottom of what happened on Jan. 6th, an incredibly dark day in our democracy,” Psaki said at the daily briefing.

Her comments came one day after the committee subpoenaed and set a date for sworn depositions for several top Trump allies — former White House strategist Steve Bannon, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, former social media director Dan Scavino and Kashyap Patel, who was chief of staff to Trump’s defense secretary.

Trump said in a statement Thursday that, “We will fight the subpoenas on executive privilege and other grounds, for the good of our country.” He also referred to the fact-finding panel as the “‘Unselect Committee’ of highly partisan politicians.”

Biden’s stance should make the panel’s path easier, but Trump could still file a legal challenge the committee’s push to get his records from the National Archives.

The panel’s document request to the National Archives is 10 pages long and seeks “documents and communications within the White House on January 6, 2021” related to Trump’s advisers and family members. It also asks for his specific movements on that day and communications, if any, from the White House Situation Room.

To date, over 600 people have been charged criminally for the Jan. 6 riot.

The Associated Press contributed.

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State pension chaos as people left stranded on NO income

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STATE pensions have been thrown into chaos by a backlog at the Department for Work and Pensions .

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