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EU citizens to take #DeniedMyVote case to High Court

Campaigners with the3million outside court fighting the #DeniedMyVote court case. - Credit: Contributed

A group of EU citizens living in the UK who were prevented from voting in the 2019 European Parliament elections because of onerous registration requirements is preparing to take the government to court.

The3million, which campaigns for an estimated three million EU citizens living in the UK, has taken legal action against the Cabinet Office after complaining that people were told voting forms had been “lost” and were unfairly turned away from polling stations on May 23 2019.

Campaign leaders say an Electoral Commission report suggested that more than a million people who had registered to vote did not exercise their rights.

Two judges sitting in London are due to begin considering arguments at a High Court hearing, with the hearing due to last two days.

Campaigners want Lord Justice Lewis and Mr Justice Supperstone to rule that EU citizens were disenfranchised because of the way the election was conducted.

They say voting rights were breached and voting registration requirements were “onerous”.

Lawyers representing the Cabinet Office dispute the group’s claims.

“The case concerns the events of May 2019 when, despite being registered to vote here and, in many cases, resident for decades, EU citizens were turned away from polling stations in large numbers and told they could not vote in the European Parliament elections,” said a spokesman for law firm Bindmans, which is representing the3million.

“The numbers affected were huge. The Electoral Commission’s special report into what happened suggests that there were well over a million who had registered to vote but did not exercise their rights.”

The spokesman said many people had completed special forms to certify that they intended to vote but were told the forms had been “lost” or “not processed in time”.

“This was no accident,” he said.

“The government had decided not to formally confirm that the elections would be taking place until May 7 – the very same day when EU citizens were legally required to return their forms.”

Solicitor John Halford said: “We want a declaration that the way the election was conducted disenfranchised EU citizens and breached people’s voting rights.”

A spokeswoman for the3million said the case was important.

“The hard-won right to vote is fundamental in every democracy,” she said.

“We must make sure that this right cannot be unlawfully taken away or undermined by undue obstacles.”

A Cabinet Office spokesman said: “We put in place all the necessary legislation and funding to enable returning officers to make their preparations for the polls in May 2019 and there was a higher turnout than in the previous European election.”