Jo Swinson demands investigation after EU citizens turned away from polls

Posted On: 
25th May 2019

Jo Swinson has demanded the Electoral Commission launch an investigation after EU citizens were turned away from polling stations during the European elections.

The Electoral Commission said the short notice of the European elections caused issues with the process.

In a letter to Sir John Holmes, the Chair of the Electoral Commission, the Lib Dem deputy leader said it was "an outrage that so many people were denied the right to vote".

She said: "Not only were European citizens turned away at polling stations, but many UK citizens abroad were also disenfranchised due to breakdowns in the postal ballot system."

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Reports emerged on Thursday of EU citizens across the UK being told they could not vote because they did not have the correct paperwork.

The Electoral Commission has said that the “very short notice” from the Government about the UK’s participation in the elections caused issues with the process.

EU citizens can vote in the country to live in by registering to vote with a UC1 form, but many complained their forms were sent late or were not processed by their local authority in time.

Another Liberal Democrat MP, Layla Moran, has also called for an inquiry into the row.

She told The Independent: "I blame the Government, not the returning officers, because what they should have done is realise the absence of reform for the process for EU citizens to register which was raised in 2014, it's not like we didn't see this coming.

"They should have had a massive advertising campaign and written to every EU citizen in the country with the form that they needed, making clear what the process had to be. I realised that wasn't happening so I wrote to some of my constituents who I was able to in time to remind them that they needed that UC1 form to vote."

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said they “recognised there is frustration” but added that “the Government doesn’t have a role in the administration of the polls” and so could not comment on the accuracy of the reports.

The results of the European elections will be announced on Sunday once polls have closed across the EU.