Launch a public inquiry into the #DeniedMyVote scandal

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As soon as voting began on 23 May in the European elections in the UK, it became clear that EU citizens were being turned away at polling stations.

This was happening because hundreds of thousands of EU citizens had not completed the supplementary form UC1 that was required (in addition to entering their names on the electoral register) to be able to vote in EU elections in the UK.

The reasons for this failure were many and varied but the consequences were the same - voter disenfranchisement and on a massive scale.

Some EU citizens never received the form, others received it too late or sent it back but the form was lost by their local Council.

Whatever the reason, no form meant no vote, and no vote meant no voice in one of the most important elections Europe has seen this century.

Many Britons living abroad who had registered to vote in the UK were similarly disenfranchised because they did not receive their postal vote forms in time.

As Founder and CEO of New Europeans none of this came as a surprise.

New Europeans had investigated when a similar scandal occurred at the European Parliamentary elections in 2014, and obtained promises form the Electoral Commission that the system would be reformed.

We raised the alarm in the middle of April 2019 and pointed out that this problem with the UC1 form which had led to mass disenfranchisement at the European elections in 2014 would lead to the same problems again in 2019.

We called on the government to make the UC1 forms available at all polling stations and to send poling cards to all EU citizens, not just those who had completed and returned the UC1 form. 

Despite our best efforts, our worst fears were realised.

It is possible that up to 2 million EU citizens and many tens of thousands of Britons living abroad may have been denied a vote.

A public inquiry is necessary to examine why the government failed to act despite warnings from New Europeans and from the MPs that we mobilised to suport our calls for government to take remedial action.

The Government must also explain why failed to put timely and adequate measures in place so that EU citizens could take part in the European elections from January 2019 at the latest when it became clear that such election were a distinct possibility.

Democracy is a special gift, and to restrict the franchise in this way, to create barriers to participation and to leave those barriers in place even when it became clear that they could not be overcome in time to allow EU citizen to vote in the European elections is unforgivable.

An inquiry could and should find out what went wrong, hold those responsible to account and draw lessons for the future so this never happens again.

Never again

One of the key outcomes we want to achieve from our campaign, is a commitment from the Government and from all political parties, that the rights of all EU citizens to vote and to stand as candidates in local elections will be safeguarded if the UK leaves the European Union.

These rights include the right to vote and to stand as candidates in elections in the UK to district and city councils, city mayors, police and crime commissioners and to the devolved legislatures.

Currently these rights are anchored in UK law, so the Government would have to legislate to remove them.

It would be a democratic outrage if having denied the vote to EU citizens in the EU elections through a systematic failure to ensure they were registered to vote, the government then moved to disenfranchise EU citizens from local elections.

That is why our campaign for a public inquiry into #DeniedMyVote is also a campaign for guarantees of the franchise for EU citizens going forward.

We also want to see the abolition of the 15 year rule which bars UK citizens abroad from voting in the UK after a 15 year absence and measures put in place to improve the delivery of postal ballots to overseas electors.

#NeverAgain

UK Government urged to guarantee rights of EU citizens to participate in post-Brexit local elections



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