EU vote registration deadline extended

The deadline for registering to vote in the EU referendum has been extended, the government has said.

Cabinet Office minister Matt Hancock said the government would legislate to extend the cut-off until midnight on Thursday.

It follows a computer glitch which left some people unable to sign up before the original midnight Tuesday deadline.

The Electoral Commission urged people to sign up until the end of Thursday in order to vote on 23 June.

The glitch, blamed on record demand, lasted from 22:15 BST on Tuesday until after the midnight cut-off.

Users reported a page displaying the message “504 Gateway Time-out” instead of the online registration form.

A last-minute surge in demand was blamed for the technical problems.

According to the government’s data website, 525,000 people applied to register to vote during the day – 170,000 were aged 25 to 34, 132,000 under the age of 25 and 100,000 aged 35 to 44.

It also shows that the peak users came at 22:15 BST when 50,711 people were using the service at the same time. There were 26,000 people on the site at 23:55 BST and 20,416 people using the site at 12:01 BST, just after the deadline.

The government’s data site does not record whether these users were successful or not in attempting to register to vote. It is also not clear whether these figures include those who got an error message.

Mr Hancock, who said he was “delighted” at the “huge voter registration levels”, told MPs the number of applications per hour had reached record levels at its peak.

Earlier opposition parties expressed anger at the events and called for an extension to the deadline, with Lib Dem leader and pro-Remain campaigner Tim Farron saying it was a “shambles” that could affect the referendum result.

During an urgent statement in the Commons, Conservative MP and Leave campaigner Bernard Jenkin said it might be legal to extend the deadline for a few hours, but said “any idea of rewriting the rules in a substantial way would be complete madness and make this country look like an absolute shambles” with a risk of a legal challenge to the referendum result.

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