The #DeniedMyVote judicial review challenging mass disenfranchisement in the EU Parliament Elections will be heard this week on Tuesday 26 and Wednesday 27 January in the Divisional Court (Lord Justice Clive Lewis and Sir Michael Supperstone). The two judges will be physically in the Royal Courts of Justice, but most of the submissions in the hearing will be made remotely, given Covid-19.
The case concerns the events of May 2019 when, despite being registered to vote here and, in many cases, resident for decades, EU citizens were turned away from polling stations in large numbers and told they could not vote in the European Parliament elections. Many had completed the special ‘UC1’ forms to certify the rather obvious fact that they intended to vote here but were told the forms had been lost or not processed in time. Other EU citizens had not heard of them. This was no accident. The Government had decided not to formally confirm that the elections would be taking place until 7 May – the very same day when EU citizens were legally required to return their forms. When EU citizens asked officials whether they could complete them at polling stations, they were told this was not permitted. Adding insult to injury, some EU citizens were told that they ought to go away and vote in their “own” or “home” countries.
The numbers affected were huge. The Electoral Commission’s special report into what happened suggests that there were well over a million who had registered to vote but did not exercise their rights. Local authority officers have recorded thousands of these people attempting to vote unsuccessfully and EU citizens’ campaigning organisation the3million has presented the Court with survey and social media evidence of individual experiences. In short, #DeniedMyVote was the biggest electoral disenfranchisement in the UK in recent history, possibly ever.
In the judicial review, the3million and five representative disenfranchised EU citizens are seeking a clear Court ruling on the legality of what happened. That is necessary because the Government maintains that the European Parliament Elections were run satisfactorily and that it was not responsible for anyone being disenfranchised. If the judicial review succeeds, it will show just how wrong and misplaced this complacent attitude is in a democracy and that all elections matter, as do the rights of each and every voter.
Maike Bohn, co-founder of the3million, said: “The hard-won right to vote is fundamental in every democracy. We must make sure that this right cannot be unlawfully taken away or undermined by undue obstacles, not now or in future. That is why this court case is so important – it holds the UK government to its duty to inform all those who have the right to vote and to enable them to do so.”
The claimants are represented by John Halford, Caroline Robinson and Grace Benton of Bindmans LLP, barristers Gerry Facenna QC and Anneli Howard of Monckton Chambers and Gayatri Sarathy of Blackstone Chambers. Their legal submissions are summarised here.#deniedmyvote, disenfranchised, electoral disenfranchisement, eu parliament elections, public l, #deniedmyvote, disenfranchised, electoral disenfranchisement, eu parliament elections, public l, #deniedmyvote, disenfranchised, electoral disenfranchisement, eu parliament elections, public l, #deniedmyvote, disenfranchised, electoral disenfranchisement, eu parliament elections, public l, #deniedmyvote, disenfranchised, electoral disenfranchisement, eu parliament elections, public