Statement about EP2014 problems in UK

Statement by

European Movement UK

Labour Movement for Europe (LME)

European Alternatives

LetmevoteUK

Vote, you’re at home!

Liberal Democrat European Group (LDEG)

 

We are a group of initiatives and organisations who are working with EU citizens in different forms. All of us in some way work on projects of citizen engagement, voter participation and policy development. We try to empower and involve EU citizens, whether of British or other origin in issues around Europe and how Europe relates to local communities in the UK, some of us also in other countries.

 

Following the European Elections 2014 in the UK on 22 May 2014 we are concerned that there have been many reports of EU citizens in the UK not being able to vote in the elections.

 

Many who thought they had registered to vote, were turned away at polling stations being told they were not on the list for EP2014.

 

At the moment we are not clear what the source of the problem was, reports varied. There were more voter registration campaigns than ever targeting EU citizens, some of which we were directly involved in. Voters did need to get on the electoral register, then confirm individually in a 2nd form that they would vote in the European Elections in the UK rather than their home country.

 

It seems that many people who have lived here for years and voted previously, did miss or never receive the form from their Local Council to confirm they wanted to vote in the EP elections. Others report having got so many forms they submitted multiple times. Other received forms so often they did not return them as they thought they had registered already.

 

We assume a combination of factors led to electoral registration being too confusing for too many. This is out of line with our democratic principles. The UK has a good track record of enabling communities from different backgrounds to vote where they have the right to do so, and to not do this adequately for so many EU citizens who live and contribute to the UK society and economy at a time of general prejudice against these citizens seems at best unfortunate, and democratically not acceptable.

 

We are asking for the process to be looked into. Points of investigation are

 

  • if and when Councils explained the process adequately so EU citizens knew which steps to take

  • whether staff in polling stations had adequate information to know in which of the ballots EU citizens could vote, so they could resolve issues aside from just telling people if they were on the list or not

  • where there are reports which indicate prejudice against any EU citizens may have been expressed, specifically at polling stations in the form of unhelpful comments, this is also a point of concern

We call for the simplification of the process and suggest that we either return to the previous system or improve the form (which incorrectly stated that no further action is required) or adopting a different system that will deal adequately with the current problems.

 

2.5m EU citizens live in the UK and make up a significant part of our communities. Access to exercise their voting rights should be straight forward, and we hope our concern is noted, looked into and followed up with appropriate processes of investigation.

 

Petros Fassoulas, Chair European Movement UK www.euromove.org.uk

David Schoibl, Chair, Labour Movement for Europe (LME) www.labourmovement.eu

Noel Hatch, Co-Chair, European Alternatives www.euroalter.com

Susanne Kendler, UK Coordinator, LetmevoteUK www.letmevoteuk.org

Jakub Krupa, UK Coordinator, Vote, you’re at home! www.jusz.eu

George Dunk, Chair, Liberal Democrat Europe Group (LDEG) www.ldeg.org

 

The European Movement UK: The European Movement is a grassroots, cross-party, independent organisation, set up in 1950 and campaigning since then to inform the debate around the benefits of EU membership. In preparation for EP2014 the European Movement offered registration information through its registration campaign website http://vote2014uk.org.uk/

 

Labour Movement for Europe (LME) is a membership and campaigning organisation and Socialist Society affiliated to the Labour Party. Since 2008 it has been running voter registration campaigns among EU citizen communities in the UK and has many EU citizens among its membership and volunteers. The LME works to improve the quality of debate about Europe in the Labour Party and beyond.

 


European Alternatives (EA) is a transnational civil society organisation and citizens movement promoting democracy, equality and culture beyond the nation state. European Alternatives organises a wealth of activities, campaigns, and projects, including public events and the annual TRANSEUROPA Festival, research, activities promoting active citizenship, youth projects, campaigns and publications.

 

Letmevote UK is part of Letmevote EU, an independent citizens’ group promoting active citizenship in the EU. Letmevote promotes voter registration and participation of all EU citizens, including mobile EU citizens, who live and work in other EU countries than the one they come from. LetmevoteUK believes in a Europe of the people, of its citizens, and of active communities.

 

Vote, you’re at home! is a non-partisan joint initiative by School for Leaders, Polish City Club London, Forum Polonia Ireland and more than 30 associated organisations of Polish expats living in the United Kingdom, encouraging Poles living in this country to be active in local communities and political processes.

 

The Liberal Democrat Europe Group (LDEG) is the association for UK Liberal Democrat members and activists who are interested in European politics. As a group, LDEG provides a forum for the discussion of European political issues with a focus on the European Union and Britian’s role in the EU. The group also promotes a greater understanding of European political affairs.