It is to lay a foundation for the resurgence of a specific form of Jim Crow–style disenfranchisement.
Jim Crow relied on outright bans at the ballot box and threats of violence to ensure white political power.
But eliminating the Black vote during that era was accomplished in subtler ways as well: by undermining community cohesion, by sapping time and energy, by sheer frustration.
The modern effort relies on similar tactics.
The so-called Big Lie is built on small lies, about the actions and intentions of individuals—the kinds of lies that can destroy lives and families.
Crystal mason’s role in this story began during the 2016 presidential election.
She was 41 and readjusting to life at home after serving most of a five-year sentence in federal prison for tax fraud.
Mason had run a tax-preparation business with her then-husband and had been charged with inflating their clients’ refunds.
Mason pleaded guilty and paid the penalty; after four years, a supervised-release program allowed her to return to her home.
She has publicly “owned up,” as she has said, to her mistakes.
Mason has three adult children, and cares for other members of the family.
She had been putting her life back together, working at a Santander bank in nearby Dallas and taking classes to become an aesthetician.
Around this same time, Donald Trump was making his ascent: calling Mexican immigrants “rapists,” brandishing casual racism and xenophobia, and asking Black voters what the hell they had to lose by voting for him.
Texas was not expected to be a swing state, but in this menacing atmosphere, Mason’s mother told Crystal it was her duty to vote.
On Election Day, Mason drove to her polling place, the Tabernacle Baptist Church.
She was coming from work, and almost didn’t make it.
“It was raining,” Mason told me, remembering the night.
“It was right at 7 o’clock, when it was about to be closing up.
I went with my name and my ID—who I was—to where I was supposed to go.”
But a volunteer there, a 16-year-old neighbor of hers named Jarrod Streibich, couldn’t find her name on the rolls, which happens sometimes.
Streibich suggested that she use a provisional ballot.