Information received by Plaid Cymru shows that thousands of EU voters living in Wales have been disenfranchised in the European election.
Following the close of voter registration for the European election, Plaid Cymru requested information regarding EU citizens resident in Wales from all of Wales’ local authorities. This information is available to all political parties on request to allow them to make contact with voters.
To date, half of the local authorities have responded. The information provided shows that in those 11 local authority areas, 78% of resident EU voters have not registered to vote in the European election to be held on Thursday 23 May.
Plaid Cymru says that the UK Government’s mishandling of Brexit led to local authorities not having enough time to write to EU citizens resident in Wales asking them whether they wanted to vote in Wales or in their home Member State.
Speaking after Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington MP confirmed on the day that voter registration closed that the UK would take part in the European elections, Plaid Cymru’s lead candidate Jill Evans warned: “This is a deeply cynical move, which may well leave thousands of people disenfranchised because they didn’t know there was an election happening.”
Ordinarily, local authorities would have written to EU citizens asking them to register to vote if they intended to vote in Wales. Because the UK Government was so determined the UK would not take part in the European elections to be taking place, local authorities didn’t do this.
When it became apparent that the UK would in fact take part in the European elections, local authorities were left with very little time to contact EU citizens.
In Cardiff, 8,559 EU citizens should have been able to vote in the European elections. Information provided by Cardiff Council showed that only 16% of them had actually registered to vote.
Meanwhile, in Carmarthenshire, 1,781 EU citizens should have been able to vote. Information provided by Carmarthenshire Council showed that 38% of those had registered.
Plaid Cymru’s lead candidate Jill Evans MEP said:
“It is an absolute disgrace that so many EU citizens who live here in Wales have been disenfranchised because of the UK Government’s terrible handling of Brexit.
“In the 11 local authorities that have provided us with information, it is astonishing that only 22% of resident EU citizens have registered to vote.
“If the UK Government hadn’t clung so stubbornly to its mantra that the UK would not take part in the EU elections, these people wouldn’t have been disenfranchised.
“Instead, here we are, with potentially 78% of EU citizens who live and work here in Wales, and who make a huge contribution to Welsh life, without a voice or a vote.
“Whether this happened on purpose or through incompetence, the UK Government has made a mockery of our democratic system.
“Meanwhile, the Westminster parties are clearly in chaos and the only option now is to put Brexit back to the people for a Final Say referendum.
“Plaid Cymru is the only Remain party standing in the European election that is on course to win a seat on Thursday.
“We are appealing to all those who want to maintain Wales’ membership of the EU to back us in order to beat Brexit.”