A large number of British expats were denied the chance to have their vote counted as the volcanic ash cloud of Iceland hindered the delivery of their overseas ballots.
Almost 15,000 Brit expatriates registered to vote for the 2010 election, a figure exceeding that of previous years, but many of these Brits didn’t receive their voting forms with sufficient time to return them.
The volcanic ash cloud coughed up by the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland is thought to be to blame for the problem, as airmail was drastically delayed after April 14, the day of the eruption. The exact number of expats who were unable to vote is still unclear, and may not be clear for some time. A spokesman for the Electoral Commission said: “because election results are all administered on a local level, we do not expect to have definitive centralized information on how many people were unable to vote for many months”.
With this year’s election being the closest for many, many years, the lost votes will surely come as a blow for the Labour Party, who were the eventual losers following the Hung Parliament and then the announcement of the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition.
Any Brit who has been abroad for less than 15 years is allowed to vote, and it is understood that some of the countries that reported missing ballots include France, Belgium, Singapore, New Zealand and Switzerland.
This news of lost votes follows that of the chaos that came last week, as many Brits in Britain were also unable to vote due to huge queues at polling stations. Such problems have led to calls for a new voting system to take advantage of the digital age we now live in. However, the Electoral Commission warned that this is not too likely at the moment- “Pilots for an electronic voting system have been carried out, and there is a possibility this will one day be an option for expats. However, there are big issues around security, and there are no plans to implement it in the very near future” said the spokesman.