, LONDON, United Kingdom, June 8 – British politicians demanded would-be EU referendum voters be given extra time to register online after the website crashed as thousands scrambled for a ballot just before the deadline.
More than half a million people registered to vote on Tuesday, with just over a fortnight to go until the June 23 vote on whether Britain stays in the European Union or leaves.
- Prime Minister David Cameron's Downing Street office said it was looking at whether it was possible and legal to extend the deadline, BBC radio reported.
- "We're aware of the technical issue," the government said on its Twitter site shortly before midnight Tuesday.
- "We're working to resolve it. This is due to unprecedented demand."
But in the last-minute rush before the midnight deadline, the government voter registration website crashed.
Prime Minister David Cameron’s Downing Street office said it was looking at whether it was possible and legal to extend the deadline, BBC radio reported.
“We’re aware of the technical issue,” the government said on its Twitter site shortly before midnight Tuesday.
“We’re working to resolve it. This is due to unprecedented demand.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was among the politicians who called for people to be given extra time to register to vote.
“The deadline has to be extended,” Corbyn said.
Around 132,000 of the people who registered on Tuesday were aged under 25, compared to around 13,000 from the 65 to 74-year-old age group.
Tim Farron, leader of the pro-EU Liberal Democrats, Britain’s fourth-biggest party, called for a one-day extension.
“This is a shambles the government has presided over and people must be given an extra day to exercise their democratic right,” he said.
Farron said the crash was a “major blow to the ‘In’ campaign”.
“Evidence shows younger people are overwhelmingly pro-European, and if they are disenfranchised it could cost us our place in Europe.”
Polling in the referendum campaign remains extremely tight.
The “Remain” camp is on 51 percent and the “Leave” campaign on 49 percent, according to the WhatUKThinks website’s average of the last six opinion polls.
Prime Minister David Cameron argued Tuesday that remaining part of the EU was the “British thing to do” as he faced senior eurosceptic Nigel Farage in a TV grilling.
Cameron attacked what he called Farage’s “little England” vision and said a Leave vote would mean “quitting, and I don’t think we’re quitters”.
Cameron faced repeated hostile questions from the audience on high immigration from other EU member states, the “Leave” side’s trump card during the campaign so far.