Hackney voting issues: Registration problems leave at least 100 residents unable to vote as polls open on day of General Election

 
Lynsey Barber
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Voters could be turned away at the polls if they turn out not to be registered (Source: Getty)

A technical error with the government's new online voter registration system has left at least a hundred residents in Hackney unable to vote as polls opened this morning, despite registering on time.

Many more who completed their registration before the 20 April cut-off date, but were not registered due to a backlog, were left unable to vote at all in today's closely-called election.

Hackney Council downplayed reports that thousands of potential voters had been affected - however the technical issue, which created a backlog in voter registration, means many people could turn up to vote at polling stations in the borough after work this evening to discover they aren't registered.

Of the hundred-odd people Hackney council are aware of who had issues, the local authority said around 60 have now been dealt with and are able to vote. Another 40 are still being dealt with.

READ: Diane Abbott calls Hackney voting chaos "a disgrace"

Some of these residents, who should have been contacted to provide further details of their identity between registering and polling day today - but were not - may now be unable to cast their vote.

The new online voter registration system is run by the cabinet office. After voters register their details, they are sent to local authorities which match the information with that held by the department for work and pensions (DWP) for verification.

In some instances where the information does not match, for example a change of name, people are asked to provide proof of identity through a passport or other documents.

A spokesperson for the cabinet office told City A.M. it was aware of the situation and is working with Hackney to resolve the "small number" of cases.

"Our priority is resolving the issue for those affected."

The government department would not comment on when the issue had first come to its attention.

A Hackney council spokesperson told added that it believes at this stage an IT problem caused voters to appear as not registered and also for registrations made before the April deadline not to come through until last night.

The backlog has also caused delays in polling cards being sent to registered voters.

While a polling card is not necessary to cast a vote in the election, there could be many more residents in the area who turn up to polling stations after work and into the evening without a polling card to find they are in fact not registered.

The issue has also affected up to 3,000 people who applied to vote by post, leaving even more residents unable to cast their vote, the Hackney Gazette reported.

The council told City A.M. it is working on getting voters' registrations completed up until the polls close at 10pm tonight, and had drafted in additional staff to help.

The Electoral Commission, the independent body which oversees election standards, has been made aware of and was monitoring the situation. It is responsible for publishing a post-election report on how the election process is run with the ability to make recommendations to government.

Hackney has two constituencies, Hackney North and Stoke Newington, and Hackney South and Shoreditch, both of which are held by Labour.

Long-standing MP Diane Abbott, who is seeking re-election in Hackney North and Stoke Newington slammed the council a disgrace over the chaos.

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