Barnet's Labour councillors have called for the electoral registration verification process to be reviewed following a number of complaints from residents who were unable to vote at the General Election on 8 June despite submitting applications to go on the electoral register by the deadline.
In a member's item to the General Functions Committee on 28 June, Leader of the Barnet Labour Group, Cllr Barry Rawlings describes how some residents submitted electoral registration applications online, received an acknowledgement email, but then had no further contact from the Council either confirming their registration or asking them for additional verification evidence.
Some residents managed to complete their application after contacting the Council, but others did not and were unable to vote.
Complaints from different residents on the same day show that some were advised to send scans of identification documents by email and were subsequently 'verified', while others in the same difficulty were told it was too late and they could not vote.
Some residents actually received a polling card, but were told they were not 'verified' on the electoral register when they went to vote at their polling station and were turned away. In one case a Presiding Officer exercised discretion and issued a ballot paper.
Leader of the Labour Group, Cllr Rawlings said: "I've been made aware of complaints from residents who had problems with their electoral registration application.
"Having seen the details of some of the complaints I am concerned there has been an IT or other system error in the verification process which may mean many more people were affected.
"The electoral process in Barnet worked much better for this year's general election than the complete fiasco at last year's London elections where hundreds of electors were turned away at polling stations because the incorrect electoral registers were printed.
"But any individual deprived of their right to vote should be unacceptable to the Council, and so these complaints must be properly investigated."
1. Text of Cllr Rawlings' Member's Item:
"General Functions, 28 June
Member’s Item: Cllr Barry Rawlings
Electoral Registration for General Election 2017
Councillors from across political parties will be aware of a number of complaints from residents who applied online to go on the electoral register by the deadline for the General Election 2017, received a confirmation email acknowledging receipt of their application but then received no further contact from the Council. On failing to receive a polling card some have contacted the Council to be informed that they needed to supply verification evidence to complete their application – but they received no email or other written request to provide any verification evidence.
Some of these residents had their registration resolved through contacting the Council and were able to vote, others did not.
A number of these residents applied many weeks before the deadline, and despite contacting the Council were not able to resolve their application through the verification process.
While the number of residents who contacted councillors and political parties about this issue may seem relatively small, any individual deprived of their right to vote should be unacceptable to the Council.
Having seen the details of some of the complaints I am concerned that there has been a system error in the verification process – whether IT error, human process error or both – and that this may mean many more people were affected than the small number of cases I have been made aware of.
I request that the General Functions Committee is advised in the first instance how many people registered online before the deadline but were not verified.
I also request that this issue is addressed in detail as part of the General Election review report that will come to a future meeting of General Functions."