William Eichler 24 May 2019

EU citizens ‘denied’ vote in European elections

European Union citizens living in the UK have complained of having their right to vote for an MEP ‘denied’.

Citizens of other EU member states who are residents of the UK are eligible to vote for British candidates in the European Parliament elections.

They are required to register and complete a UC1 form, a declaration that they are casting their ballot in the UK, before the 7 May.

However, many EU citizens have reported being turned away at the polling station.

‘Just got turned away from the polling station because I'm an EU national #DeniedMyVote called the council and it's because they didn't send me a form in time,’ wrote one EU national on Twitter.

‘So after 13 years here, how do I feel when I see my name ACTIVELY CROSSED OUT on the list?! Uk, you have outdone yourself. #DeniedMyVote,’ wrote another.

Peter Stanyon, the chief executive of the Association of Electoral Administrators, suggests that the reason many people were not able to vote was because of the late notice that the elections would be taking place.

‘Electoral administrators and councils have been working flat out over the last two months to make sure that everyone who is eligible to can vote in an election that they had been advised would not be taking place,’ he said.

In previous years, UC1 forms and reminders would have been sent from January onwards. However, the Government only announced on 5 April that the elections would go ahead.

A spokesperson for the Electoral Commission said that they understood the ‘frustration’ of citizens of EU member states who were unable to vote in the UK.

‘All eligible EU citizens have the right to vote in the EU elections in their home member state,’ the spokesperson said.

‘If an EU citizen instead chooses to vote in the EU election in the UK, there is a process for them to complete to essentially transfer their right to vote, from their home member state to the UK.

‘This is a requirement of EU law, which specifies that this has to be done “sufficiently in advance of polling day”. UK law sets this as 12 working days in advance of the poll.’

‘The very short notice from the Government of the UK’s participation in these elections impacted on the time available for awareness of this process amongst citizens, and for citizens to complete the process,’ the commission spokesperson continued.

‘EU citizens’ right to vote in the election in their home member state remains unaffected by the change in the UK’s participation; in order to do so, they would need to be registered in that country in accordance with that country’s process and timetable.’

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