As the European Parliament elections closed Thursday in the UK and the Netherlands, hundreds of EU citizens trying to cast their vote in the two countries complained being turned away because of administrative mistakes.
A campaign group in the UK, the 3million group which campaigns in Britain on behalf of EU citizens from the bloc’s other 27 member states, said it had been contacted by hundreds of angry people who had been turned away when they tried to vote.
Large numbers of EU nationals took to social media to recount how they arrived at polling stations in the UK to find their names had been crossed off the list of eligible voters.
#DeniedMyVote was one of the top trending topics on Twitter in the UK on Thursday afternoon, as they voiced their anger at being unable to vote in a flurry of tweets.
Britain was not supposed to be taking part in the elections for the European Parliament as it was due to leave the bloc on March 29.
However, the rejection of the divorce deal that Prime Minister Theresa May struck with Brussels meant Brexit was delayed until October, requiring the vote to go ahead.
The UK’s election watchdog said if an EU citizen wanted to vote in Britain rather than their home state, they had to transfer their right to do so 12 days ahead of the poll.
The British Election Commission said that the very short notice from the government of the UK’s participation in these elections impacted on the time available for awareness of this process amongst citizens, and for citizens to complete the process to be able to vote.
There were similar problems though in the Netherlands too.
Home affairs minister Kajsa Ollongren has been asked to explain why so few of the EU nationals in the Netherlands are included on the voting register for today’s European parliamentary elections.
Last week it emerged that just 12% of the 490,000 EU nationals in the Netherlands have signed up for the register and people from all over the country say they have not had information about the need to do so from their local authority.
The Dutch Labor Party of Frans Timmermans, the center-left candidate for European Commission president, is the unexpected winner of the European Parliament election in the Netherlands, according to an exit poll.
The party won five out of 26 seats with more than 18 percent of the vote, doubling its result compared to the last European election in 2014. That means that the Dutch social democrats will be a larger force on EU level than Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s liberal party, which came second on 14 percent, and Thierry Baudet’s upstart Euroskeptic Forum for Democracy (FvD), which came fourth on 11 percent.