the3million on their official complaint to the Electoral Commission regarding its appaling handling of the EU citizens registration to vote in the EU Elections, and how to make your voice heard anyway.




Tomorrow, I am voting in the European Elections.

But many EU citizens have been denied their democratic right to vote due to the reckless action of the Electoral Commission.

The issue stems out of the need for EU citizens to declare whether they will vote in the UK or in their country of origin, as you cannot vote twice.

It should be a simple declaration at the polling station on the day of the vote, but instead, the Electoral Commission made it so complicated and confusing (remember the mess about the online registration websites) that we worry the vast majority of EU citizens eligible to vote won’t be registered.

Yesterday, the3million lodged an official complaint about the Electoral Commission’s handling of the registration of EU citizens for this year’s European Parliament Elections.

the3million lodged an official complaint to the Electoral Commission.

In 2016, we were disfranchised despite being directly impacted by the decision being made; in 2019, we are prevented from voting in what could be the last UK nationwide Elections we could be part of.

Here is why we are so incensed by the body which should protect our democratic rights:

  1. The Commission reneged on a 2014 commitment to send out the UC1 form to registered EU citizens;
  2. The Commission provided vague and confusing information, preventing EU citizens from successfully registering;
  3. The Electoral Commission's insufficient guidance was followed up by inconsistent service from local authorities.

In the last three weeks, the3million has seen many examples of EU citizens failed by their councils, including giving false advice and sending out the mandatory additional form too late for it to be returned on time.

For example, a Dutch couple, having lived in Prime Minister Theresa May’s constituency in Maidenhead for the past 26 years, was told the EC6 form had not been received, despite the couple posting it on 23 April – two weeks before the deadline. The couple was told they could not vote although the council could not rule out that the form had got lost in their system. They are dismayed and say: “It is a basic human right to vote, having had no say in Brexit, this vote was extremely important to us.”

A French national living in Bristol sent her form at the end of April, 1st Class, but never received her polling card. When she called the Council, she was told it arrived on 8th May, a day too late. Bristol has promised to send a letter to all those who sent their form late, but the Electoral register worker said there were simply too many EU citizens in Bristol to process.

Barnet Council told Austrian Walter Buchgraber that he had to register as a British citizen to vote in this election. When he queried this, the council got back to him eventually to confirm he was eligible to vote after all.

Catherine West MP also wrote to the Commission on 29 April to raise these concerns, and in their reply to the MP, the Commission mentioned a public awareness campaign they carried out. As far as we know, the campaign was made of one tweet.

We raised a Freedom of Information request to the Commission on 8 May, but they replied ‘You may expect to receive a reply sent from the Commission by 06 June 2019’, which is way past Election Day.


Important:

Regardless of having received your polling card or not, we suggest you exercise your voting right: just go to the polling station.

  • If you are on the list you will be able to vote.
  • If you are denied your voting right tomorrow, take it to social media using the hashtag #the3millionvote and let us know.

You can find your local polling station by simply providing your postcode.

You can also check if you are on the register by contacting your Electoral Registration Officer. Contact details can be found here.

Finally, do not miss our very own Twitter guru Axel Antoni on the BBC Question Time ExtraTime on Radio 5 Live tomorrow night at 10pm, representing over 3 million EU citizens on the panel. No pressure Axel!🔷


Did you know the3million is the leading non-profit organisation of EU citizens in the UK? We are grateful of your support, as we simply could not have campaigned for citizens’ rights over the last 24 months without you. If you can afford it, please become a paying supporter today to allow the campaign to continue for the next 24 months and beyond if necessary.

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[This piece was originally published on the3million newsletter. | The author writes in a personal capacity.]

Creative Commons License
(Cover: Geograph.org.uk/Philip Halling - A large black ballot box on Broad Quay in the centre of Bristol to remind people to vote in the 2014 European Elections. | 22 May 2014. / Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)



     

THE AUTHOR

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the3million is the largest group of EU citizens in the UK, with a team of 50-ish active volunteers working on advocacy, policy, legal, media, social media, grassroots and events.