Hackney councillor denied bid to get EU referendum polling station at Glastonbury

Councillor Michael Desmond had wanted to set up a place for festival-goers to cast their vote

A Hackney councillor has had his bid to get Glastonbury festival-goers their own polling station for the EU referendum denied.

Justice Ouseley rejected a proposition by Cllr Michael Desmond and two colleagues to set up a place for voters to have their say on Worthy Farm today (June 23).

Desmond works in the Hackney area of London and was backed by two former mayors of Haringey and Southwark in his attempts.

He submitted an application on June 15 for a Judicial Review to the Royal Courts of Justice, using a special urgent procedure with a view to a decision on a mandatory order being made against the Electoral Commission.

Hackney Citizen reports that Desmond said following the decision: “With the [EU] referendum on a knife-edge, votes from a significant number of the 135,000 attending the festival could affect the outcome.

“To suggest they viewed the clash with ‘indifference’ is injudicious at best, perverse at worst. Many attending will be students, some completing critical final exams, most will not have had time or known they had to arrange a postal or proxy vote. Many will want to vote.”

He continued: “It’s time in this ‘democracy’ that we help all those wanting to vote to do so, without having to overcome awkward or time-consuming hurdles.”

Desmond also suggested the future use of online voting for such situations and beyond. “We need to allow internet voting, for those who want to use it, whether in Glastonbury, Glasgow, Gillingham – or Hackney!” he said. “It’s time voting procedures caught up with the voters.

“It is very sad, many young people desperate to stay part of the EU, will be unable to vote at the festival.”

A spokesperson for the Electoral Commission said: “Since the date of the EU referendum was announced, the Commission has worked closely with the organisers of Glastonbury to ensure festival-goers received information, either via email or social media, about how to apply and cast their vote by post or by proxy.

“The Representation of the People Act 2000 requires a person to vote at the polling station allotted to him/her unless they are entitled to vote by post.

“This is because every local authority in Great Britain only holds the electoral register for their area.

“Any Hackney residents heading to Glastonbury who haven’t yet returned their postal vote must do so as soon as possible as their vote will only count if it’s received by 10pm on Thursday 23 June.”
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