British-officials-extending-deadline-to-register-for-controversial-EU-Brexit-vote. LONDON, British officials on Wednesday said they will extend the deadline for those wanting to register to vote in the upcoming referendum on membership in the European Union.
The previous deadline for the June 23 referendum was Tuesday but many prospective voters haven’t been able to register due to a computer glitch. The new deadline is midnight local time Thursday, Cabinet Office minister Matt Hancock said.
“We have said to the government this morning they should consider options for introducing legislation as soon as possible that would extend the deadline. We would support such a change,” the British Electoral Commission said.
Officials say a last-minute surge to register was the likely cause of the problem.
More than 525,000 citizens of the United Kingdom have so far applied to register, government statistic show. About 170,000 are between the ages of 25 and 34, 132,000 are under the age of 25 and 100,000 are between 35 and 44.
The referendum vote has been a hot topic in Britain over the last few weeks, with many advocating the country’s exit from the EU, colloquially called “Brexit,” for a variety of reasons. British Prime Minister David Cameron, though, has aggressively spoken out against a departure, saying it would cause “self harm.”
Wednesday, some proponents of an exit from the EU accused Cameron of bias over the deadline extension.
“The government is having to rewrite the rules to clear up a shambles of their own making. Why are they are not acting with the same vigor over weeding out misregistered EU nationals who have been sent polling cards and even postal ballots, but who are not eligible?” pro-Brexit Tory Bernard Jenkin said.
Exit supporters have said a close vote might prompt a judicial review because of the extension — because some believe it will allow more younger voters to participate, which supposedly benefits pro-EU advocates more than it does “Brexit” backers.
By Doug G. Ware