Thousands of EU Citizens were turned away from polling stations today and therefore unable to vote in the European elections.
Within hours of the UK polling booths opening this morning at 7 am, hundreds had taken to the Twitter to voice their anger, which saw the hashtag #deniedmyvote trending.
An immigration and human rights barrister, Agata Patnya tweeted: “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.
“I registered before the deadline. Have been here since 2005. Voted many times before. This is my member state.”
Any EU citizens living in the UK wishing to vote in the European elections needed to complete two forms.The first is a register-to-vote form and the second a declaration to vote in the UK form. These had to be received by local authorities by the 7th May.
Despite the majority claiming they had returned the forms in time, many were turned away from their local polling stations and told to vote in their EU member state instead.
It’s believed that the Electoral Commission advised local councils about the requirement to complete the second form, but did not have a legal duty to do so. Because of this, it appears that there was a breakdown in the whole process, specifically with local councils informing EU citizens in regards to the two step process and their obligation to complete both forms.
One Twitter user @gerrievannoord said, “Did fill in the extra form, which I was pleased my council had sent out. When I did not receive polling card I enquired: they claim they never received my form despite use of dedicated envelope. #DeniedMyVote”.
First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, also took to Twitter saying, “Just spoken to a constituent at a polling station who is from Poland, been here for years but wasn’t allowed to vote...even though he’s on register. It is outrageous!”
Fortunately, those who were denied a vote can still vote up to 10 pm today, in the event that the processing of the application can still be corrected by 9 pm and their details added to the register.
Brits living in Spain and other parts of Europe are also thought to have been affected by what has been described as an ‘administrative error’, with many claiming that their postal votes had gone missing, arrived late or in some cases hadn’t arrived at all.
UK citizens living in the EU are able to vote in the European Parliament elections and can vote in either their host country or back in Britain. Citizens have the option of either voting via postal vote or via proxy.
UK citizens who have lived abroad for 15 years or more, automatically lose their right to vote in any UK elections.