Election

Crystal Mason's Work Logs Cast Doubt On Prosecutors' Timeline in Illegal Voting Case

New records show the timeline for Crystal Mason's alleged illegal voting in the 2016 election doesn't add up.
New records show the timeline for Crystal Mason's alleged illegal voting in the 2016 election doesn't add up. Getty Images
During their prosecution of Crystal Mason for alleged illegal voting in the 2016 election, Tarrant County prosecutors built their case around the testimony of two witnesses: Jarrod Streibich and Karl Dietrich, who  were Mason’s longtime neighbors in Rendon and served as volunteer election judges at the polling place there. Discrepancies in their testimony about when they saw Mason vote are now helping to fuel her appeal.

Dietrich testified he was “quite positive” Mason voted at 2:30 p.m., Nov 8, 2016, at the Tabernacle Baptist Church in Rendon, where both he and Streibich were election judges.

Prosecutors elicited painstaking accounts of the events that took place that afternoon from Streibich, who emphasized his detailed memory. When asked if he witnessed Mason actually filling out her ballot, he explained it happened close to where he was working as an election judge, “4 to 5 feet from the table, to be precise,” he said.

Streibich later stated he “could probably say” exactly what time Mason voted, “since I always wear a watch.”


“I check it every two minutes — two to five minutes, and it was around 4, 4:15 to 4:30.” Streibich then reaffirmed that, according to his “best recollection,” Mason voted at 4:15 p.m.

But according to logs of employee badge swipes at Santander USA’s downtown Dallas office, where Mason worked in quality assurance at the time, Mason was either still at work or at least an hour’s drive from the polling place at 4:15 p.m., when Streibich alleges she voted.

The logs show that Mason swiped her employee badge to get back to work at Santander at 3:24 p.m.

“I was swiping in from my last break. I usually took my last break late in the day,” Mason explained. She said she worked for another 30 minutes or so then left to make the hourlong drive back to Rendon.


Mason’s defense attorney Kim Cole said there’s “no way” Mason could have made it from downtown Dallas on a weekday evening to Rendon to vote according to the timeline laid out by Streibich.

The logs show Mason swiped her employee badge multiple times between 1:59 p.m. and 3:24 p.m., the window when Dietrich stated he was “quite positive” Mason voted.

Neither Streibich nor Dietrich responded to the Observer’s requests for comment.

"The timeline demonstrates that the state's two main witnesses were willing to lie on the stand to suit their purposes," said Kim Cole, Mason's defense attorney. "It shows that Crystal never got a fair trial," Cole said.

"These two were neighbors of Crystal's and knew each other, but obviously they didn't get their story together before they testified, because they testified she arrived at two totally different times, neither of which is accurate," Cole said.

The Observer detailed the years of harassment and property damage Mason and her family faced in their mostly-white Rendon neighborhood last month. Streibich lived around the corner from Mason, and Dietrich lived directly across the street for more than 10 years. Both testified during trial that they were aware of Mason's criminal conviction when she voted in 2016.

"They testified to that they met after she left and decided to specifically turn her in to the prosecutor," Cole said. "This was all orchestrated."

Cole told the Observer that she is awaiting the results of a subpoena issued to T-Mobile for Mason’s cell phone tower location data. Cole said she is sure the data will substantiate Mason’s version of events and disprove the state’s.

The results of the subpoena can't come soon enough for Mason, who was convicted of casting a provisional ballot in 2016 while on parole for a federal tax conviction. Mason launched an unsuccessful appeal of her voting conviction in 2018. She appealed her case again, which is now being considered by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

Mason has never denied that she cast the provisional ballot. She maintains that Streibich suggested she fill out a provisional ballot when her name didn't show up in the voter rolls, and that she was unaware that her parolee status made her ineligible to vote.

Streibich later told the Huffington Post that he was aware of Mason's parolee status and knew that her status made her ineligible to vote.

If the three-judge panel decides against her, she will face a five-year prison sentence. 

Her final chance at appeal comes as conservatives continue to push restrictive voting measures in state legislatures across the country, and the Trumpian wing of the GOP continues to traffic unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election. All three judges on the high appeals court in Texas are Republicans. 
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Michael Murney is a reporting fellow at the Dallas Observer and a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. His reporting has appeared in Chicago’s South Side Weekly and the Chicago Reader.
Contact: Michael Murney