Electoral teams “did what they could to make the best of it in a very difficult situation”, a regional returning officer has said following multiple reports of EU citizens being denied their right to vote yesterday.
Last month LGC reported there was growing concern that the last minute rush to organise the EU elections could lead to legal challenges from EU citizens who had found themselves unexpectedly disenfranchised.
A template complaint letter to the Electoral Commission has been downloaded thousands of times from the site of the EU citizens’ campaign group the3million, and the hashtag #DeniedMyVote has been trending on Twitter, as EU citizens in the UK have expressed their anger.
Delays in processing UC1 forms, which EU citizens have to complete to declare they would not be voting in another member state and return to councils in order to take part in the election, were said to be the cause of the problems.
Mark Heath, who is the regional returning officer for the South East, told LGC organising the election “was an immense challenge”.
He said some returning officers in the region had raised concerns with him about possible disenfranchisement in the days leading up to and on polling day yesterday.
“The government’s decision in calling the poll so late in the day meant that sending out UCI forms was going to be problematic. It was number one on the national risk register for us,” Mr Heath added.
Peter Stanyon, chief executive of the Association of Electoral Administrators, said its members began sending out UC1 forms as soon as the election was called “even though there is no requirement in law to do so”.
“In previous years, UC1 forms and reminders would have been sent from January onwards,” he said.