Thousands from Brighton and Hove face losing their vote in European elections

Posted On 29 Apr 2019 at 11:11 pm

Thousands of Europeans who live in Brighton and Hove face being turned away from polling stations when they turn out to vote in the European elections.

The situation is a repeat of a problem that was highlighted at the last European elections in 2014 and could affect as many as 14,000 voters in Brighton and Hove alone.

Citizens of European Union (EU) countries other than Britain face an extra bureaucratic hurdle aimed at discouraging people from voting in more than one country.

They are required to fill in a form UC1 saying that they want to vote in Britain rather than their home country.

Few councils expected to have to send out the forms this year, with Brexit – Britain’s departure from the EU – originally scheduled for Friday 29 March.

But delays to Brexit mean that Britain will elect a new set of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) on Thursday 23 May.

As a result European voters must fill in and return a UC1 form by 5pm on Tuesday 7 May.

There are concerns that councils have been slow to send out the forms which European voters have to fill in afresh for each European election, leaving too little time.

Liberal Democrat Paul Chandler, the party’s agent and a candidate in the local elections in Brighton and Hove on Thursday (2 May), said: “Not a lot of people realise that the nearly 14,000 EU residents of Brighton and Hove have an extra hurdle to jump if they want to vote in the forthcoming election for the European Parliament on Thursday 23 May.

“Despite the fact that, among other things, they work in our hospitals, teach in our schools, serve in our restaurants and pay their taxes, they must complete and return a form UC1 or they will be turned away at the polling booth.

“Even if they think they have a vote because they have a polling card for the local elections on Thursday 2 May, they still have to return this form that will be sent to them by the council and return it by 5pm on Tuesday 7 May, if they want to vote again on Thursday 23 May.”

Paul Chandler

Mr Chandler said last week that the electoral services team was “poised to send notification of this to all the EU voters in the city”.

He added: “We can only assume they are waiting for the final decision from the government to go ahead with the election.

“The UC1 form will be posted first class next Wednesday (1 May), giving EU voters only five days to get their forms filled in and returned.

“It is still possible that the EU election could be cancelled with yet more money wasted.”

Brighton and Hove City Council said: “EU citizens living in Brighton and Hove need to complete an extra form.

“If you’re a citizen of a European Union country (other than the UK, Republic of Ireland, Malta and Cyprus), you can choose to either vote in the UK or in your home country. You can’t vote twice.

“To vote in the UK, you need to

  • be registered to vote
  • complete a form stating you wish to vote in the UK and not in your home country

“Forms have been sent to all currently registered EU citizens that live in the city.

“You must complete and return these forms in the prepaid envelope or by email by (Tuesday) 7 May 2019.”

Roz Scott is a freelance journalist and copywriter. Read more of her work at www.rozscott.com.

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  1. Pauline Di Chiara Reply

    If the council is posting out the UC1 forms on May 1st, there’s very little chance of them being received, fill in and returned by May 7th considering it’s a bank holiday weekend and postal collections won’t resume till Tuesday May 7th.
    The council must include the correct email address so these forms can be scanned and emailed back in time. This is a disgrace and it is happening all over the country, disenfranchising hundreds of thousands.

  2. Roz Scott Reply

    Hi Pauline,

    Details of the Council policy are here: https://new.brighton-hove.gov.uk/news/2019/european-parliament-elections-23-may

    You can download a form from the Electoral Commission here: https://www.yourvotematters.co.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/255197/EU-citizen-European-Parliament-voter-registration-form-English.pdf

    Original article is on my blog here: http://rozscott.com/eu-residents-face-extra-hurdle-to-vote-in-european-elections/

    Hope that helps and you manage to vote. Best wishes, Roz Scott

  3. Jack Reply

    It is indeed a disgrace. Only in Brexit Britain where the Electoral Commission doesn’t even have the power to call out the corrupt 2016 Referendum as Null + Void. All it was able to do was fine the 2 Leave Campaigns. Our Democracy is broken + here is even more proof: discouraging, making it very difficult/impossible for EU citizens to vote. This is very serious indeed.

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