Judicial Inequity

One of America’s greatest problems is inequity. Especially in trying to understand the 2016 election we speak much of economic inequity. Today I’d like to focus on a clear example of racial inequity.

Earlier this week Donald Hartle was sentenced to a $2,000 fine and one year of apparently unsupervised probation for two counts of voter fraud in the 2020 election. Crystal Mason was sentenced to five years in prison for submitting a provisional ballot in the 2016 election. On the surface there seems to be a great inequity; it gets worse.

Hartle requested an absentee ballot for his dead wife and cast it. It actually counted in the initial totals. Mason’s provisional ballot was never counted at any point. It is reasonable to assume that Hartle knew his wife was dead both when he requested the ballot and when he returned it. Mason was on supervised release from prison when she submitted her provisional ballot and claims to have not known that she was ineligible to vote at that point in time. Her claim is certainly believable; few people know the felon/former felon voting rules in their states.

Hartle’s case was used as the “poster boy” case in Nevada by which the Trump forces tried to justify throwing out the entire 2020 Nevada election and awarding the state’s electors to Trump due to falsely claimed widespread voter fraud. Hartle did media appearances where he stated that he never received the absentee ballot at his house and had no idea how it was cast. In addition to voter fraud, it certainly appears that Hartle committed two instances of mail fraud which is a federal felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Mason’s transgression took place at her local precinct voting spot on Election Day 2016.

It is reasonable to assume that Hartle made multiple false statements to investigators. Mason was confused from the start. Perhaps she shouldn’t have been but in my book lying, especially to authorities, is a far greater sin than genuine ignorance of what to most Americans is rather obscure law.

At the time of the offense voter fraud carried a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison in Texas. (The current law is in flux.) In Nevada the law calls for up to 4 years in prison and up to a $5,000 fine for each offense.

Five years in prison is serious! A $2,000 fine for a middle class American is noticeable but certainly not life changing. It’s no worse than a serious home or auto repair. Since few Americans get arrested on an annual or more frequent basis the unsupervised probation is pretty much negligible.

Mason presumably attempted to vote for Hillary Clinton; we know Hartle cast both votes for Donald Trump.

How did Mason receive the much harsher sentence while Hartle got little more than a slap on the wrist?

Oh, one more thing: Hartle is a white male, Mason is a Black female. Think that might matter? And now you know why I’m angry.

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