LONDON – U.K. election authorities acknowledged Thursday that some EU citizens were turned away at U.K. polling stations while trying to cast ballots in the European Parliament polls.
The hashtag #DeniedMyVote began trending in Britain as voters cast their ballots in one of the 28 countries taking part in four days of voting.
“Early morning visit to cast my vote only to have it disenfranchised because my declaration that I wouldn’t be voting in Sweden (my country of citizenship) hadn’t been processed in time,” Twitter user Lina Dencik wrote.
The lobby group, The3Million, representing the interests of EU nationals working and living in Britain, said it had been contacted by “hundreds” of people who were turned away.
Britain’s Electoral Commission said it was monitoring the situation but refused to take the blame.
“We understand the frustration of some EU citizens of other EU member states,” it said in a statement.
It attributed the incidents to misunderstandings by some people of European election rules for those living abroad.
“The very short notice from the government for the U.K.’s participation in these elections impacted on the time available for awareness of this process among citizens,” the U.K. election body said.
Prime Minister Theresa May’s government only acknowledged on May 7 that Britain will have to take part in the European election because it had not been able to complete the Brexit process in time.
This limited the time both EU and UK authorities had to explain the different voting rules each country has for its expatriates.
The pro-EU Liberal Democrats accused May’s government of deliberately trying “to silence the voices of our fellow Europeans.”
“Liberal Democrats will hold the government to account for this bureaucratic shambles,” the party said in a statement.