The deadline to register to vote in the EU referendum is to be extended to the end of Thursday, the British Government announced yesterday.
The move – which is expected to require emergency legislation – came after thousands of people were prevented from registering by the original deadline of midnight on Tuesday when a UK Government website crashed.
More than a million potential voters have applied to register online over the last week, half of them on the final day, the British Government said, with a peak of more than 200,000 per hour ahead of the midnight June 7 deadline.
“Following discussions with the Electoral Commission and strong cross-party support expressed in the House of Commons, we will introduce secondary legislation to extend the deadline for voter registration until midnight tomorrow [Thursday],” Cabinet Office minister Matt Hancock said yesterday.
“Having taken the decision today, we think it is right to extend to midnight tomorrow to allow people who have not yet registered time to get the message that registration is still open and get themselves registered.”
The decision to extend voter registration impacts in Gibraltar too, although the local system suffered no glitches and the last voter to register here ahead of the June 7 deadline did so at 11.16pm on Tuesday night.
Paul Martinez, the counting officer for Gibraltar, was yesterday in contact with officials in the UK, who advised him to follow the steps put in place in Britain while a decision was taken on whether to extend the deadline.
Application forms submitted after the news broke yesterday were being accepted and date stamped by staff at the Gibraltar Parliament, but not processed pending a decision from the UK Electoral Commission.
Several applications were submitted in Gibraltar during the course of yesterday and, with the deadline extended by the UK authorities, will now be added to the local register.
As of yesterday afternoon, a total of 24,224 voters were registered and eligible to vote in Gibraltar in the June 23 referendum. That figure is likely to dip slightly once the register is brought fully up to date to reflect recent deaths.
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