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Nov 2, 2012 No Comments ›› Pat Dollard

Excerpted from WTSP: TAMPA BAY, Florida – Local service members who have spent years serving the country are discovering this fall that they aren’t allowed to vote in the presidential election.

Valrico resident and Navy Captain Peter Kehrig, who has been abroad for five years tells 10 News he feels cheated by a system that removed him from the rolls.

Florida State Law requires county supervisor of elections offices to perform regular “maintenance” on its voter rolls to eliminate voters who have been convicted of felonies, moved out of the county, or may have died.

Voters who miss two consecutive general elections (2010 and 2008, for instance) are mailed a letter to their residence warning them they will be removed from the rolls. But since the post office only forwards mail for six months, Kehrig never got it. 10 News’ #ProtectYourVote campaign is an effort to investigate allegations of – and prevent – voter influence and other improprieties at the polls.

Kehrig is one of about 30 active and reserve service members who have contacted the Hillsborough Supervisor of Elections’ office about the discovery, but October 8 was the last day the law allows a voter to register for the general election. Other Tampa Bay-area counties reported small numbers of complaints too.

“It’s not just a right that I’ve earned by being an American,” Kehrig said of voting, “but I’ve (been) trying to protect our country and I really believe it’s a right I’m being denied.”

Kehrig has served in the military for more than 30 years, including time at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa. He suggests legislators change the law so service members aren’t disenfranchised.