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#DeniedMyVote trends in Britain as EU citizens are turned away from polling stations

Britain’s Electoral Commission said it was due to confusion over European election rules for those living abroad.

A polling station in Ruislip in London.
A polling station in Ruislip in London.
Image: PA Images

UK ELECTION AUTHORITIES have acknowledged that some EU citizens were turned away at UK polling stations while trying to cast ballots in the European Parliament polls.

The hashtag #DeniedMyVote began trending in Britain as voters cast their ballots in one of the 28 countries taking part in four days of voting.

“Early morning visit to cast my vote only to have it disenfranchised because my declaration that I wouldn’t be voting in Sweden (my country of citizenship) hadn’t been processed in time,” Twitter user Lina Dencik wrote.

The lobby group, The3Million, representing the interests of EU nationals working and living in Britain said it had been contacted by “hundreds” of people who were turned away.

The Guardian reported that it has been contacted by hundreds of people who were unable to vote, including an Irish family in Liverpool who said they were denied the right to vote even though Irish citizens are treated like British citizens in UK elections. 

Britain’s Electoral Commission said it was monitoring the situation but refused to take the blame.

“We understand the frustration of some EU citizens of other EU member states,” it said in a statement.

It attributed the incidents to misunderstandings by some people of European election rules for those living abroad.

“The very short notice from the government for the UK’s participation in these elections impacted on the time available for awareness of this process among citizens,” the UK election body said.

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Prime Minister Theresa May’s government only acknowledged on 7 May that Britain will have to take part in the European election because it had not been able to complete the Brexit process in time.

This limited the time both EU and UK authorities had to explain the different voting rules each country has for its expatriates.

The pro-EU Liberal Democrats accused May’s government of deliberately trying “to silence the voices of our fellow Europeans”.

“Liberal Democrats will hold the government to account for this bureaucratic shambles,” the party said in a statement.

© – AFP 2019 

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