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Diane Abbott blasts Hackney Council over polling card fiasco

SAFE SEAT?: Diane Abbott

LABOUR POLITICIAN Diane Abbott has accused Hackney Council of letting the community down after hundreds of residents were left unable to vote because of a computer glitch.

Hackney council insiders said the council’s IT system buckled under the pressure of thousands of people registering to vote just before the April 20 deadline.

The borough - which includes two safe Labour seats including Abbott’s Hackney North and Stoke Newington Ward - issued a statement saying around 100 people had been affected, but there were suggestions the actual figure could be higher.

“Spent months persuading people to register to vote. Now Hackney council completely messes things up. Made no contingency for the numbers,” Abbott wrote on Twitter.

“Hackney council has had five years to prepare for this election. But today it is chaos ‪#lettingdownthepeopleofHackney.”

She went on: “The election date and the new systems for registration have been known for some time. Why this chaos?”

The outspoken politician then retweeted a number of comments from her constituents who had been affected by the glitch.

@HelenORahillly wrote: “‪@HackneyAbbott we asked for postal votes as we were (are now) in Japan on holiday. Never showed up....you're two down :-(“

“‪@HackneyAbbott no polling cards sent, awful phone service, misinformation, it's like they aren't bothered,” wrote @ddancarson

Hackney resident, Denise Jenkins, who is yet to vote, told The Voice she was in two minds about whether to go to her local polling station after reading the news.

“I couldn't vote in the morning as I have to get to work early, so I intended to vote this evening. I didn't receive my polling card, but didn't think that would be a problem as I did register to vote – on time – so I assumed I'd be registered on the system,” she said. “But hearing about all this chaos is worrying. It sounds like I might be in for a long night waiting around, after which I still might not be able to vote. It's as if Hackney Council didn't know the elections were coming. It's a disgrace.”

Hackney Council said it was their “absolute priority” to enable people to vote and some of those affected were thought to have finally received their polling cards this morning.

“Due to issues caused by the new Individual Electoral Registration system we did not receive some applications until late into the process, as details were cross checked by the Department for Work and Pensions, via the government’s new online registration service," they said.

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