Texas Marine denied right to vote, learns why

Marine finds out he can't vote white at polls

SAN ANTONIO -- He fought for our country and your right to vote, but on Monday, a San Antonio Marine said he was denied the right to vote.

John Nelson is a former active duty Marine. Monday, he thought he was going to cast his ballot in this historic election. When he arrived at Shavano Park City Hall to take part in early voting, he was told he isn't registered to vote.

“I served and the fact that it was taken away from me for whatever reason, it really made me mad,” said Nelson. “This guy served his country and he can't vote.”

In March, Nelson said he renewed his driver's license.  While he was at the DMV, he also re-registered to vote.  Nelson never received a voter ID card in the mail.

“The fact that I didn't get [a card] this time after registering at the DMV, I didn't even think about it,” said Nelson. “I just assumed [I was registered] because I've never not been able to vote.”

The Bexar County Elections Department said you don't ever have to assume if you're registered to vote. 

Everyone registered to vote will get a voter ID card in the mail.  If you move, change your name, or for whatever reason, you don't have a card, you can always check if you're registered online or on the phone.

The Elections Department collects voter information from the DMV but doesn’t have a way of knowing if the DMV fails to turn in someone’s voter application form since they are two separate departments. Nelson is currently working with the state to find voter application with the DMV. 

John's wife, Irma, wasn't allowed to vote either. Both of them had been purged from the voter system because they hadn't voted in the last two general elections in Bexar County.

The elections department said Texas law requires local elections departments to purge inactive voters from the system to avoid voter fraud. Before an inactive voter is deleted, the election department contacts them requesting updated information.

“For us, we didn’t' know,” said Irma. “We didn't know that if you hadn't voted in two years, that you couldn't vote.”

Even if your name is deleted from the system, all you have to do is re-register.

John and Irma did get help registering to vote in future elections, but it’s too late for them to vote in this election. The deadline to register to vote for this election was Oct. 11.

“Our son is in the Marines right now, and he was sick when he heard about his dad,” Irma said.  

Both John and Irma urge everyone to make sure they are registered to vote before the head to the polls.

(© 2016 KENS)


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