Calls grow for Electoral Commission to investigate #DeniedMyVote scandal

PUBLISHED: 11:04 25 May 2019 | UPDATED: 11:09 25 May 2019

A polling station for local elections. Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA.

A polling station for local elections. Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA.

PA Archive/PA Images

MPs and MSPs are calling on the Electoral Commission to investigate the denial of voting rights reported by numerous EU citizens voting in the UK during the EU elections.

Numerous reports have been made by EU citizens voting in the UK that they were unable to cast their vote, giving rise to the hashtag #DeniedMyVote on social media.

Constitutional relations secretary and MSP Michael Russell has written to the minister for the cabinet office, David Lidington, and the commission about the "scandalous and anti-democratic" problems reported in the vote.

READ: EU citizens turned away from UK polling stations despite being registered

In his letter, Russell said: "It is a disgrace that in addition to the uncertainties that EU citizens have had to endure, over the last almost the years since the EU referendum, some have been denied their right to vote in the European parliament election.

"We want EU citizens in Scotland to feel settled and secure, and to continue to feel welcome and valued in Scotland. This debacle will do nothing to ease their concerns.

"[...] Any seat that is secured by only a small number of votes could be impacted by this outrageous deprivation of democratic rights."

Liberal Democrat MP for Oxford West and Abingdon Layla Moran has also joined the calls, telling the Independent that she blames the government rather than the returning officers for the apparent problem.

Joanna Cherry, MSP for Edinburgh South West said she had been dismayed by the "utterly dismissive" response from Theresa May when she raised a question in the commons prior to the election about whether EU citizens were going to be disenfranchised.

Since the election, she told The New European that "it seems to be a massive problem".

She spoke of one of her constituents who had lived here for many years: "She wasn't able to vote. She didn't even receive a form. It's happening regularly."

But, she added, "when opposition MPs raise issues about the rights of EU citizens they say we're scaremongering".

The EU elections were triggered just 17 days before the election date after it became clear that parliament was not going to pass Theresa May's Withdrawal Agreement Bill in time for the UK to leave the EU.

The Local Government Association, along with numerous MPs, had long warned of the potential problems in organising the EU elections so late.

Reforms to streamline the election process for EU citizens had been recommended by the Electoral Commission after the 2014 election, but had not been put in place becase they didn't believe another EU election would happen.

EU citizens wishing to vote in the UK's EU elections still faced the extra hurdle of needing to fill in a UC1 or EC6 form declaring that they would cast their EU elections vote in the UK rather than their country of origin.

But many reported receiving their forms too late, or not receiving one at all.

Some, who say they returned their forms on time, are now reporting that they had still had their names crossed off the list.

Anticipating the problem, shadow foreign minister Catherine West raised an urgent question in the commons in April.

READ: Less than 0.01% of EU citizens' voter forms received due to election 'havoc', say MPs

She was joined by several MPs calling on the government to remove red tape for EU citizens after it emerged that fewer than 300 crucial forms had been returned.

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