EU citizens living here who should be able to vote in their country of residence much as ex-pat Brits can, are reporting widespread voter denial.
The hashtag #deniedmyvote was trending on Twitter soon after polling stations opened across the UK for the European elections today, as many claimed they were unable to vote.
Campaigners for the millions of EU citizens resident in the UK complained to the Electoral Commission earlier this week as it became apparent many would be denied a vote.
“The3million has multiple examples of local authorities mishandling the application process,” the group wrote to the election regulator.
The group said that inconsistent advice had been given to electoral officers around the country leading to mix-ups, administrative errors and vote denial.
Catherine West, MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, has also written to Sir John Holmes, the chair of the Electoral Commission.
The Labour MP warned as many as 75% could be turned away from polling stations today because they have not filled out a secondary form.
“I fear that this process has helped create an artificial barrier to the enfranchisement of EU citizens, a concern shared by a number of my parliamentary colleagues,” Catherine West wrote to the Electoral Commission.
Research in her constituency revealed that just 25% of EU citizens who had registered to vote in local elections and were not from the UK, Ireland, Malta or Cyprus had actually returned the necessary second UC1 / EC6 form.
Barrister Agata Patnya, tweeted this morning:
“Turned away from polling station this morning. Told I should vote in my EU member state. Called local council yesterday, they confirmed I could vote. Called again today. Apparently council had no time to send out forms to all EU residents. Nothing they can do now
“To clarify, I registered before the deadline. Have been here since 2005. Voted many times before. This is ‘my’ EU member state,” she added.
Tottenham Labour MP David Lammy shared the concerns.
“3 years of being insulted, exploited and asked to apply to stay in their own homes. Now reports flooding in that EU citizens are being turned away at polling stations, despite being registered to vote. The two step process is ugly discrimination
#DeniedMyVote” he added.
Others complained about being disenfranchised too.
“I’ve been turned away from the polling station saying I’m not eligible to vote despite the fact I’ve got a polling card received and have registered too. My local council
@EastHantsDC failed to send out the declaration form,” complained Peter Baier.
Marcella Finazzi tweeted: “Just went to vote this morning with my orange poll card and I was told I cannot vote because I figure as Italian citizen not British Italian.”
Marta Federici tweeted:
“I posted form (way before deadline), my husband posted AND emailed (can prove date) and we were both marked as ineligible to vote at polling station. Called number I was given but no answer, no call back yet.
“IMPORTANT, please share. If you have been told you’re not registered to vote and thought you were, in particular EU nationals, DO NOT GIVE UP. Turns out erroneous letters have been sent out. Go to your town hall to check & if too late for that go to your polling station.” tweeted barrister and Change UK candidate Jessica Simor QC.
“Worrying reports from across UK of
#EU citizens resident here being denied #RightToVote. I raised this at #PMQs yesterday. I’ll be out & about at polling stations across #EdinburghSouthWest later so please contact me if you experience problems #EUElections19″ tweeted Joanna Cherry QC and MP for the SNP.
Other EU born voters reported they had voted successfully too.
Please share your experiences if you were disenfranchised in the comments below or on social media.