VoteDenied, the issue

On Election Day, 22 May 2014, many UK residents were denied the vote for the elections for the European Parliament and were not able to elect who should become their representative at the EU.

Since 1993, EU citizens have the right vote in the country where they live, rather than the country of their nationality. For many people it makes more sense to elect an MEP representing the country where they actually live, study or work rather than the country they were born.

As a result of the election irregularities on 22 May, a group of potentially over one million UK residents were denied their right to vote.

 

What happened on 22 May 2014?

Many UK residents encountered difficulties when they showed up at their polling station. The types of incidents are diverse but the most common types were:

  • They were told they were not registered to vote in the election for the European Parliament despite having completed and returned the relevant registration form UC1.
  • They were told they were not registered to vote in the elections for the European Parliament despite having voted in previous EP Elections in the UK.
  • They were told they were not registered and had not been made aware of the additional registration requirement.
  • They were initially denied the vote but allowed to vote after speaking with their local authority.
  • They were denied the vote and told to vote in their country of origin.

The causes of these incidents are as diverse as the types:

  • In some cases local authorities have removed registered voters from the EU electoral roll. Removal without consent is in breach of article 9, paragraph 4 of Council Directive 93/109/EC that provides the legal basis for EU parliamentary elections.
  • In some cases local authorities have lost the returned registration forms.
  • In some cases polling station staff were insufficiently aware of election procedures and have denied people the vote because they “had to go and vote in their own country”.
  • In some local authorities voters were not informed of an additional form they wanted voters to fill in. Many voters expected that being on the electoral roll or having voted in the previous European Parliamentary elections would register them to vote in this year’s EP elections.
  • In some local authorities voters were informed of this additional form the council wanted to fill in but returning the form had been made difficult.

 

Who has the right to vote and in which elections?

EU citizens living in the UK have the right to vote in:

  • European parliamentary elections
  • British local government elections
  • Scottish Parliamentary elections (if they live in Scotland)
  • National Assembly for Wales elections (if they live in Wales)
  • Northern Ireland Assembly elections (if they live in Northern Ireland)

EU citizens who are not British citizens or Commonwealth citizens cannot vote in British parliamentary elections.

For European parliamentary elections, EU citizens can vote either in the country of their nationality or the EU country in which they are currently living. They cannot vote in both.

The arrangements for ‘the exercise of the right to vote for citizens of the Union residing in a Member State of which they are not nationals’ are laid out in: directive 93/109/EC.