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UK lawmakers to vote on extending EU referendum registration

AFP , Wednesday 8 Jun 2016
EU Referendum
A web page on a voting registration site is seen on a laptop computer for the forthcoming British EU referendum, in London, Britain, June 8, 2016 (Photo: Reuters)
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British lawmakers will vote on Thursday on extending the EU referendum registration deadline after the main website crashed, prompting accusations from Brexit campaigners of an attempt to skew the vote.

The glitch happened ahead of a midnight deadline on Tuesday following a surge in requests, particularly from younger voters who overwhelmingly tend to favour Britain remaining in the European Union.

"We will introduce secondary legislation to extend the deadline for voter registration until midnight tomorrow," Cabinet Office Minister Matt Hancock said in a statement Wednesday.

"We will legislate tomorrow," he said on Twitter.

The website was still taking registrations on Wednesday and will do so through Thursday while the legislation is approved.

"If you aren't registered and you want to vote in this EU referendum you should continue to register," Cameron said on Twitter.

Alex Robertson, director of communications at the Electoral Commission, which oversees the referendum, said: "No one should miss out on voting in this historic referendum because of the problem with the government's registration website last night".

The website crash had prompted a chorus of protests, particularly from pro-EU campaigners from the opposition Labour and Liberal Democrat parties.

Following the announcement of the extension, both sides urged their supporters to make a final push to register for the vote.

Around 132,000 of the 525,000 people who did successfully register on Tuesday were aged under 25, compared to around 13,000 from the 65-to-74 age group.

Tim Farron, leader of the Liberal Democrats, Britain's fourth-biggest party, 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," he said.

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