General Election: Diane Abbott blames Hackney Council for “completely messing things up”

Diane Abbott

Diane Abbott - Credit: Archant

Labour candidate for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, Diane Abbott, has attacked the council’s handling of polling, and hundreds of voters turning out to cast their ballot in the General Election have been told they are not registered to vote.

Diane Abbott hits out at Hackney Council for letting down voters

Diane Abbott hits out at Hackney Council for letting down voters - Credit: Archant

Abbott, who is defending her seat in Hackney North and Stoke Newington, asked why there was so much “chaos” considering the council had five years to prepare for the election.

Hackney council has blamed the government’s new online voter registration system for creating a backlog, meaning hundreds of residents who registered to vote online before the April deadline are turning up at local polling stations to discover they can’t vote.

On top of this up to 3,000 residents who applied to vote by post faced a delay in receiving their papers, meaning some of them have been disenfranchised.

People turning up to vote today who are being told they can’t are being sent to Hackney Town Hall which has seen queues up to an hour long.

An angry Ms Abbott tweeted: “Spent months persuading people to register to vote. Now Hackney Council completely messes things up. Made no contingency for the numbers.”

Ms Abbott claims hundreds of her constituents have been in contact and that she is going to complain to the Electoral Commission.

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A spokesman for the Commission said it is “an issue that we will look at as part of our usual review of what’s happened during the election.”

A Council spokesman said: “We know that there has been an issue for some of our voters who used the Government’s online registration system, where they are not appearing on our printed register.

“Nearly all of these have been able to vote after we have resolved their cases on our system. “We are working hard to ensure that all those who are eligible are able to vote and we are confident that the vast majority of Hackney residents will be able to vote without any problems.”

A Cabinet office spokesman said that applications using the government’s digital service have consistently been turned around overnight by the DWP.

He added: “A small number of applications cannot be verified against DWP records, so local authorities take more time to verify against their own records or seek alternative identification from the voter.”