People have been left fuming by the Labour party once again. Following the enforcement of the six month voter freeze and the £25 supporter fee, many newly-paid up Labour supporters have received an email from the membership office informing them that they cannot be found on the electoral register.
Coming from an email sent out from a dedicated supporter email address, the correspondence says:
Unfortunately, with the details you have provided we are still unable to match you to the electoral register.
In order to complete your application we will need some more information from you.
The email goes on to suggest ways in which recipients can help themselves be located on the electoral register, including an email from their local council, a copy of a 2016 polling card, an email from the gov.uk website confirming their registration to vote, and details of a previous address they might still be registered at.
Crucially, some people were told they needed to provide their response within a week. Others were told they had just 72 hours, and the email may have gone into their spam folder.
After providing the information requested, some have reported that there were no further problems and they could be located on the register.
@femmenistfatale It happened to me, but was quickly sorted out, not problem.
— Poppy G (@chicamusique) July 25, 2016
— no identity (@NoNonperson) July 25, 2016
Others, however, were less lucky.
The Canary spoke to one man who, after being told he could not be found on the register, provided the full range of information and a photograph of his polling card from May 2016. He spoke to a member of Labour party staff on the telephone the next day who informed him that his registration was successful. Hours later, he received another email informing him that he could still not be found.
Since several new supporters had only just voted in the EU referendum last month, the suggestion that they were not on the register came as a shock. We spoke to people who had been at the same address for eleven years or more, and had no reason to think that they had been taken off the register.
@femmenistfatale Yes- exactly that. Have given them old address and they still say they can't find me.
— Lutra Lutra (@reacctionary) July 25, 2016
There is a great deal of uncertainty surrounding what the problem is. It has been suggested that the party may be using the Open Register instead of the full register – and many people, including the country’s most vulnerable, choose to opt out of that – while others believe that as a result of changes to the register, people may have been removed without knowing.
However, one Twitter user described being ‘found’ on the electoral register after providing the exact same information that she had given when she had first made her supporter application.
@femmenistfatale I've emailed the exact info they had in my application & they've now said they found me. ?
— Laura Blair (@lauragrayblair) July 25, 2016
Elsewhere on Twitter, some report hearing nothing back from the party after responding to the request for further details to help locate themselves.
@femmenistfatale I applied a week ago and they couldn't find me. I replied and still haven't heard anything.
— Oliver Llewellyn (@OJLlewellyn) July 25, 2016
Others still have heard nothing at all since registering, with confusion as to whether they should have received confirmation or not.
@femmenistfatale I have joined and registered, followed up with emails, and have heard NOTHING!
— Tim Thomson (@TimxThomson) July 25, 2016
@femmenistfatale I have made an application, paid and received an e-mail confirmation but nothing further. Should I expect more by now (1wk)
— Gerry Mander (@thingmee) July 25, 2016
Given the raised £25 fee was meant to cover the increased administration expected for the supporter registration period, the fact paying it has led to such levels of confusion is baffling to many. Perhaps naturally, some are suspecting foul play.
We know of at least one person who is prepared to take legal action against Labour over his concern that “people are being rejected on spurious grounds and potentially, even more seriously, automatically”. He believes that the emails claiming that people cannot be located on the register are automatic in order to discourage people from continuing their registration process.
It is safe to assume he will not be the only one feeling that they are being asked to jump through further unnecessary hoops to vote for the Labour leadership.
The party responded to a request for comment as follows:
A common reason for not being matched on the electoral register is people who have recently moved house.
We emailed everyone who does not pass the electoral register check, and we will reply to anyone who has sent in extra evidence or further queries over the coming days in good time so that they will be able to receive a vote if they are eligible.
Unfortunately, this may not help reassure the many people still waiting for a response, let alone the people who believe there was no reason to call their presence on the electoral register into question in the first place.
If you are having trouble sorting your registration, contact the Labour party.
Featured image via Flickr/Tom Page.