As soon as polls closed on 22 May 2014, it became clear that many EU citizens in the UK and across Europe had been unable to vote in the European elections.
See report in the Huffington Post
In one London borough (Kensington and Chelsea), 18,886 non-British European citizens were on the register to vote for local elections but only 3,230 returned the additional (UC1) form which entitled them to vote in European elections as well.
The total number of European Union citizens registered to vote in the UK was 1,567,149 (combined electoral registration statisitcs for England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, 2013-14).
The scale of the vote denied issue remains to be established but it is clear from early indications and reports that the numbers will be run into the hundreds of thousands.
British expats living in other EU member states have also been turned away when they tried to vote.
The failure to make these votes is a serious indictment of European parliamentary democracy, not least because the ability to exercise the right to vote is fundamental to ensuring democratic engagement from the public.
It is also impossible to avoid the conclusion that the scale of the missing votes has impacted on the outcome of the European elections.
A number of MEPs will be sitting in Strasbourg today who might not be there had the system worked properly.
Some of them will be Eurosceptics, intent on weakening the legitimacy of the European parliament further.
Our representations to the Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee
New Europeans has submitted evidence to the Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee as part of their inquiry into Voter engagement in the UK.
The Committee held an evidence session on 3 July with the Electoral Commission and raised New Europeans concerns about the exclusion of European expat voters in the UK from the European elections.
Following the 3 July session, the Chair of the Commitee, Graham Allen MP has written to the Electoral Commission with further questions arising from New Europeans' evidence.
We are also working directly with the Electoral Commission as they prepare their report into the European elections 2014.
At the Committee hearing Jenny Watson, Chair of the Electoral Commission confirmed that the Commission might need to look at abolishing the two-stage registraitn process.
This was a key recommendation made by New Europeans to the Committee.
New Europeans investigates
In consultation with community groups and Samia Badani, Social policy analyst at New Europeans designed a questionnaire.
Explaining the background to the questionnaire, Samia Badani said:
"We are calling on groups representing EU nationals in the UK to lend their support in this campaign and to share the questionnaire as widely as possible. This is a unique opportunity for the voice of EU nationals to be heard and to show that we can achieve positive change through the EU institutions.
To take part in the questionnaire click here
Further research with the help of students at Southampton University
With the help of studetns from Southampton University, New Euroepans has been researching thebarriers that non-British voters face in relation to registering to vote and actually voting in Euroepan elections in the UK.
To read the report, click here
To see the video, click here
Making a formal complaint
“We are asking people to come forward and let us know of their experiences. We also want to hear from people who have already complained.”
Samia Badani, Social policy analyst, New Europeans
All those who were denied a vote should make make a formal complaint directly to the Electoral Registration Officer at their local council.
If a copy of the complaint is sent to New Europeans, at email@example.com, we will forward this to the European Commission (DG Justice) in Brussels as part of our representations.
New Europeans are in also discussion with the Electoral Commission in London about the need for an urgent investigation of the circumstances surrounding these individual claims.
Copies of the complaint should be sent directly to the Electoral Commission in the UK for information.
If available, the following documents should also be scanned and forwarded as part of the complaint:
- individual polling card
- any other official correspondence received in connection with eligibility to vote in the European election
- a report of any comments made by officials at the polling station
Redress and reform
New Europeans is working with its network of MEPs and MPs to raise awareness of this issue. We will also send a copy of our report and recommendations to the Electoral Reform Society
We are also working with the European Parliament office in London and the Political and Constitutional Affairs Select Committee at the House of Commons.
With our partners in Europe, European Citizens Abroad and Europeans Throughout the World, we are campaigning for reform of voting procedures across Europe to make it mcuh easier for citizens to understand what they need to do to be able to vote and to extend the franchise.
It is not clear what redress may be available in individual cases for the denial of the right to vote in the European elections. We will keep this aspect under review and report back in further updates.
Speaking at Europe House, London, Roger Casale said:
“Longer term, reform of the voting procedures themselves is clearly needed and New Europeans will continue to work with the European Commission and with our partners in civil society including European Citizens Abroad and Europeans Throughout the World in a construtive way to achieve this.
Denial of the vote is a very serious violation of the rights of the individuals concerned.
It is also frustrating to note that despite New Europeans voter registration campaign over a period of four months and the work of other groups in civil society, there is still such a gap between the level of registration amongst EU nationals in the UK for local elections and the level of registration for European elections.
I hope the work we are engaged with through the questionnaire and with community organisations across Britain will help us discover the reasons for this so that something can be done about it.
It is essential that this is done as quickly and effectively as possible in order to start to reverse the loss of trust in the European parliamentary election process that can be provoked as a result of such serious shortcomongs and failures as we have seen with respect to the 2014 elections."
For further information write to: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also follow our twitter campaign - #VoteDenied