Britain’s Chief Rabbi was one of a number of angry voters turned away from polling stations today after an administrative error in the London Borough of Barnet left thousands of people off the electoral register.
Ephraim Mirvis and his wife Valerie were sent away when they tried to vote in the London Mayoral Election on Thursday morning. Although correct electoral lists were later sent to polling stations, the Chief Rabbi missed his opportunity to vote as he had to fly to Amsterdam later in the day.
Polling chiefs described the blunder as a “disgrace” after voters started shouting at polling staff and saying they had been “disenfranchised”.
The London Evening Standard reports that one voter yelled: “This is the worst council in Britain, it’s a disaster,” while another said: “This is a conspiracy”.
Lawyer Karen Johnson told the paper: “It’s a complete disgrace. They said they’ve been given the wrong lists and people can’t vote. I feel disenfranchised.
“If it’s close then they should re-run it so people can have their say.”
Every single one of Barnet’s 155 polling stations is believed to have had incomplete lists, possibly disenfranchising thousands of people.
Conservative mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith will likely be the biggest loser from the fiasco, which happened in the largely prosperous Conservative-voting borough that also contains a large Jewish population determined to deliver their verdict on Labour’s ongoing anti-Semitism scandal.
A spokeswoman for Mr Goldsmith urged those denied a vote earlier today to return to polling stations later.
She added there had “clearly been a major problem across the whole of the Borough of Barnet”.
“It remains to be seen what the effect of this will be upon the three ballots taking place there,” she said.
“We would strongly encourage any voters wrongly turned away to return to their polling stations at any time up to 10pm this evening if at all possible.”