In the run-up to the European Parliament elections held in May 2014, we worked hard to get Europeans to use their vote! Here are some examples of the actions we organised and joined.
Join the Vote action
In April 2014 a bunch of European Greens in London members took part in the Join the Vote action, registering thousands of people to vote in the European Parliament elections.
38 Degrees have now shared feedback on the action and, while it is hard to be precise, from what volunteers reported it looks like Join the Vote registered around 20,000 people.
There are a couple of really impressive things about this figure. In recent elections the Electoral Commission have spent around £25 for every new person they registered – Join the Vote cost just £1.92 per person.  And, unlike electoral officers who know which houses aren’t registered, we couldn’t get the data in time so we had to knock on every house to check if our neighbours were registered or not. Next time round, 38 Degrees says, we will make sure this information is available and easy to use.
European Greens in London aimed at and made an effort to reach out for non-UK European residents. Thanks so all of those that were involved.
Vote Denied campaign
As soon as polls closed on 22 May 2014, it became clear that many EU citizens in the UK and across Europe had been unable to vote in the European elections (see report in the Huffington Post).
In one London borough (Kensington and Chelsea), 18,886 non-British European citizens were on the register to vote for local elections but only 3,230 returned the additional (UC1) form which entitled them to vote in European elections as well.
The total number of European Union citizens registered to vote in the UK was 1,567,149 (combined electoral registration statisitcs for England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, 2013-14). The scale of the vote denied issue remains to be established but it is clear from early indications and reports that the numbers will be run into the hundreds of thousands.
British expats living in other EU member states have also been turned away when they tried to vote.
The failure to make these votes is a serious indictment of European parliamentary democracy, not least because the ability to exercise the right to vote is fundamental to ensuring democratic engagement from the public.
It is also impossible to avoid the conclusion that the scale of the missing votes has impacted on the outcome of the European elections. A number of MEPs will be sitting in Strasbourg today who might not be there had the system worked properly. Some of them will be Eurosceptics, intent on weakening the legitimacy of the European parliament further.
A coalition of groups, including European Greens in London and New Europeans, worked to raise this issue with the media and relevant policy-makers. Drop us a line if you’d like to support this on-going action.