The government is to blame for European citizens being denied their vote in May’s European elections, a regulator has concluded.
According to a report published today by the Electoral Commission, government failure to implement electoral reforms recommended after issues were exposed in the 2014 elections, resulted in European citizens living in the UK to be denied their vote.
The report said:
“UK governments have not addressed this problem by making changes in the law, so effectively denying numbers of UK citizens overseas who are entitled to vote a reasonably practical way to actually vote.”
In May, concerns were raised after EU citizens struggled to cast their votes in elections after being turned away from polling stations and administrative errors. One estimate suggested that between one and two million EU citizens were unable to vote in the election.
This has led to action by campaign group the3million, who are in the process of launching legal action against the government and has been an outspoken advocate for EU citizen’s rights.
The Electoral Commission said that the government did not announce the elections in enough time for local governments to sufficiently prepare. It added that EU citizens were not aware that they needed to submit additional forms as well as registering to vote and some were not included on the electoral register despite submitting the correct documentation. It said the laws surrounding voting were “complex and outdated” and “presents real risks for voters”.
The report added:
“The experience of EU citizens at the May 2019 European Parliamentary elections in the UK illustrates the impact of making significant decisions about elections without thinking through all the possible contingencies and making sure the interests of voters are always put first.
“By not taking steps to proactively identify alternative solutions soon after the 2014 election, and then simply assuming there was no chance of European elections happening again, the UK Government missed the opportunity to legislate for improvements to the process for future elections.”
Whether there will finally be justice for those who were denied their vote remains to be seen.