Glastonbury festival-goers have been denied their own polling station for the EU referendum, following a failed legal bid by a Hackney councillor to have one put in place.
A judge rejected a court challenge by Cllr Michael Desmond and two others to overturn the decision not to provide a polling station at Glastonbury for Thursday’s EU referendum.
According to Hackney councillor Michael Desmond, who was one of the three who granted a judicial review, Mr Justice Ouseley said “…the suggested need for speed is entirely down to the indifference with which some voters may have faced the clash, apart from the handful who have acquired tickets recently.”
Commenting on the decision Cllr Desmond said: “With the [EU] referendum on a knife-edge, votes from a significant number of the 135,000 attending the festival could affect the outcome.
“To suggest they viewed the clash with ‘indifference’ is injudicious at best, perverse at worst. Many attending will be students, some completing critical final exams, most will not have had time or known they had to arrange a postal or proxy vote. Many will want to vote.
“It’s time in this ‘democracy’ that we help all those wanting to vote to do so, without having to overcome awkward or time-consuming hurdles.
“We need to allow internet voting, for those who want to use it, whether in Glastonbury, Glasgow, Gillingham – or Hackney! It’s time voting procedures caught up with the voters.
“It is very sad, many young people desperate to stay part of the EU, will be unable to vote at the Festival.”
Cllr Desmond, who represents Hackney Downs ward, had successfully submitted an application on 15 June for a Judicial Review to the Royal Courts of Justice requiring the Electoral Commission to arrange a polling station at the Glastonbury Festival.
He used a special urgent procedure with a view to a decision on a mandatory order being made against the Electoral Commission.
He was joined in his bid by two former mayors of Haringey and Southwark.
Defending its position, a spokesperson for the Electoral Commission said: “Since the date of the EU referendum was announced, the Commission has worked closely with the organisers of Glastonbury to ensure festival-goers received information, either via email or social media, about how to apply and cast their vote by post or by proxy.
“The Representation of the People Act 2000 requires a person to vote at the polling station allotted to him / her unless they are entitled to vote by post.
“This is because every local authority in Great Britain only holds the electoral register for their area.
“Any Hackney residents heading to Glastonbury who haven’t yet returned their postal vote must do so as soon as possible as their vote will only count if it’s received by 10pm on Thursday 23 June.”