Citizens’ rights groups “the3million” and “British in Europe” have joined forces to launch a crowdfunding bid to try and get compensation for those they say were prevented from taking part in the elections on Thursday.
The organisations claim thousands of EU citizens living in the UK were turned away from polling stations due to their nationality, while UK citizens living abroad found their postal ballot papers turned up late or not at all.
The groups say that by the end of polling day, the hashtag #DeniedMyVote had been tweeted more than 100,000 times: among them Lib Dem leader Vince Cable and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon.
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“We should not have been treated like second class citizens and we are calling those who believe in fairness to support us challenge the government in court over the disenfranchisement, discrimination and disrespect of EU citizens in the UK and British citizens in the EU.
“Our voting rights matter, they are part of our fundamental status as citizens and part of our legal and constitutional heritage, protected by EU law. The time has come to stand up for our rights.”
John Halford, of Bindmans LLP, said: “The right to vote is the foundation for all citizenship rights. Last Thursday saw a large scale, systematic, openly discriminatory denial of that right.
“The case we plan to bring will show that this is not something the law will tolerate and that there must be accountability and consequences.”
The Electoral Commission said on Thursday that it was aware of some EU citizens living in the UK being unable to vote.
It said the “very short notice” from the government about the UK taking part in the election had hampered efforts to raise awareness of the process for EU citizens transferring their vote from their home country.