Citizens rights groups British in Europe and the3million – which represents EU citizens living in the UK – are planning to bring a joint legal action over problems with voting in the European elections.
Dozens of British people living in France who had registered for a postal vote allowing them to vote in the UK reported that their ballots either never arrived, or arrived too late for them to be send back to the UK in time to be counted.
At the same time, EU citizens living in the UK reported being turned away at polling booths, despite having registered in advance to vote.
A crowdfunding page set up on Saturday to cover the costs of legal action had raised £40,000 by the end of Sunday, double its initial target.
John Halford, of Bindmans LLP, who is representing the campaigners, said in a statement: “The right to vote is the foundation for all citizenship rights.
“Last Thursday saw a large scale, systematic, openly discriminatory denial of that right.
“The case we plan to bring will show that this is not something the law will tolerate and that there must be accountability and consequences.”
Jane Golding, Co-Chair of British in Europe said: “Only around 40 percent of British people living abroad can still vote in the UK and hundreds if not thousands of them will have been effectively disenfranchised in this vote, and previous national votes, by a combination of administration procedures that are not fit for purpose and the lack of resource to overcome them.
“Add into that no central body looking after our disapora and we have the perfect storm.
“It comes as no surprise whatsoever that postal votes have gone missing, arrived late or simply didn’t arrive at all because the UK’s attitude to its overseas voters is outdated and broken.
“Just applying similar rules to someone in Germany or Spain as someone who lives 100 metres away from their local council doesn’t make sense and then sending ballots out using the cheapest route when there is an imminent deadline is nothing short of reckless.”