Hundreds of students 'denied chance to vote in general election' after admin error

 A voter enters a polling station in North London. Polling stations have opened as the nation votes to decide the next UK government in a general election. It's the 3rd election in under 5 years. (Photo by Dinendra Haria / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Voters took to the polls today. (Photo by Dinendra Haria / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)

Hundreds of students in Cardiff may have been denied the chance to vote in today’s general election because of admin errors.

University students said they were sent emails on Monday from Cardiff Council saying their applications had not been registered by the November 26 deadline.

A significant amount of the 200 invalid applications are believed to be from residents of a large student accommodation block in the Welsh capital.

The National Union of Students Wales said it was “alarmed” by the problem, apparently caused because students had not provided complete information including room and flat numbers.

An email seen by the PA news agency showed a council staff member explaining it was not able to follow up incomplete registrations “due to the volume of incomplete applications in the final hours before the deadline”.

A University of South Wales student who asked to remain anonymous said she was not informed her application had been rejected, despite applying a week before the deadline.

“They said it’s a problem with large student accommodation blocks, which is slightly worrying.”

She added: “If they don’t have the staff or team who are capable with handling mass registrations at a certain time, that’s on their end, not ours.”

Cardiff Council said about 1,000 invalid forms were flagged by the Electoral Commission and 800 people were contacted who went on to register correctly.

200 incomplete applications remained which included “a number of people living in student accommodation”.

Many of those had either not responded to Cardiff Council or had provided incorrect contact details and some applicants had not been spoken to because of “the high volume of queries being dealt with”, a council spokesman said.

“Without the full and accurate address, including flat and room numbers, it is not possible to add individuals to the register,” they added.

“Everyone registering on the site receives an auto confirmation message that the application has been sent to us, regardless if the information supplied is complete or not.

“We have raised concerns about this issue.”

He also said there is no obligation for the local electoral registration officer to chase up incomplete applications but the council has spent “considerable time and effort” doing that.

NUS Wales said it was unable to determine exactly how many of the 200 applicants related to students.

It was aware a “significant” amount related to the Liberty Bridge private student accommodation in the Adamsdown area of Cardiff, which has more than 600 rooms.

A spokeswoman for the Electoral Commission said it was aware of the issue and said anyone with questions about their registration status should contact their local authority.

Meanwhile, a student in Huddersfield said she was turned away from her polling station because a stranger had used her vote.

Sam Lindley, 21, was turned away at 5pm but was told someone had already voted in her name.

“I showed them all my identification and they told me it was definitely me but they would not be able to let me vote as someone already voted for me,” she told the Huddersfield Examiner.

“I was then put on the phone with the electoral administration and was told by the person over the phone as well as the manager of that person that there was nothing I could do and I was not allowed to vote.”

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